There’s an under-reported epidemic sweeping the nation, and chances are, you’re affected by it. The Centers for Disease Control reports that Americans are in the middle of a sleep deprivation epidemic.
Sleep expert Matthew Walker’s recent TED talk is a no-nonsense look at how we are literally killing ourselves by depriving ourselves of our most vital life support system: sleep.
Sleep impacts every major bodily system, from our brain and hearts to our immune system. Trying to function day after day on just a few hours of sleep is shown to cause consequences such as cardiovascular diseases and shorter life expectancy. Lack of sleep contributes to weight gain, depression, and poor decision making.
But there’s more. Lack of sleep makes us slower, dumber, and less able to learn new things. Sleep deprivation is not the badge of honor that some high achievers would have us believe.
In fact, sleep is a vital necessity, not a luxury or the mark of laziness.
Sleep scientists around the world are coming to the same conclusions: sleeping more is crucial not just to short-term functioning and productivity, but to long-term health as well. Simply put, sleep makes us better at everything.
We know we need to sleep, but many of us have trouble actually sleeping. About 30 percent of Americans has symptoms of insomnia—the most common sleep disorder. Insomnia is characterized by one or more of the following symptoms:
- The inability to fall asleep (the average sleep takes 15 minutes to fall asleep);
- Waking up often during the night and having difficulty falling back asleep;
- Waking up too early in the morning;
- Feeling tired upon waking.
If any of those sound familiar, read on for tips to prepare yourself for a good night’s rest, and expert advice on falling asleep—and waking up.
Better bed, better sleep
Getting a good night’s rest starts long before you crawl under the covers. Lifestyle changes like these can help support better sleep:
Keep a regular routine. Going to bed and waking up at the same times each day supports the body’s natural wake/sleep rhythms. Make your bedtime routine something to look forward to with a mug of herbal tea, a hot bath, or soothing music.
Avoid a multi-function bedroom. If possible, remove the home office/TV room/playroom/exercise room functions that so many bedrooms fulfill. Make it a space for intimacy and sleep only. This will help switch your brain into sleep mode as soon as you walk into the bedroom.
Bliss out your bedroom. Make sure your bedroom environment is conducive to sleep. Get tips from the Better Sleep Council on the best bedroom décor tips here.
Check your bed and pillows. They should be comfortable yet supportive. Experts say that if your mattress is more than five to seven years old, it’s probably not giving you the right support.
Arrange your day around your sleep. Aim for seven to eight hours of sleep a night. So, if you need to wake up at 6 am to get to work on time, you should be dozing off by 11 pm at the latest.
Tips to fall asleep
- Power down electronic devices like computers, phones and the TV at least 30 minutes (but preferably 60 minutes) before bed. These devices produce blue light which interferes with the body’s sleep hormones. Set your device to switch to “night mode” after 8 or 9 pm as an extra cue to begin powering down.
- Try a sleep story (like bedtime stories for grown ups) on the Calm app, or one of their sleep music selections.
- Avoid watching the news or violent movies and TV shows right before you try to fall asleep. These types of programs cause more stress and agitation at a time we’re trying to relax.
- Dab a little lavender essential oil on your fingers, rub them together and inhale deeply before massaging it into your temples and wrists.
- If you are still tossing and turning and not able to fall asleep after 30 minutes, get out of bed and go to a different room. Do a mindless activity like folding socks, or read a book until you feel sleepy.
Wake up, buttercup
How you wake up is important, too. With enough sleep, you should wake feeling rested and recharged. Avoid hitting the snooze button. Another nine minutes of sleep won’t make a difference, and what sleep you do get will be light and not restful.
Instead try these wake-up tips:
- Keep your alarm clock (or phone) across the room so you physically have to get out of bed.
- Head immediately to the bathroom to brush your teeth and splash cold water on your face.
- Turn on the lights in your bedroom or open the curtains—the more light the better.
Finally, embrace naps as a way to augment your nighttime sleep. Studies show that naps increase alertness and make us more productive (makes sense, right?). According to NASA, the optimum nap time is 26 minutes—perfect to sneak in a little shut eye on your lunch break.
How Groovy can help!
Stress is a major contributor to insomnia. So, being more relaxed and less stressed in general helps you get to sleep faster. Incorporate these stress-busting service as part of your wellness routine to support your better sleep habits:
- Salt Room
To book a service, please speak to one of our Groovy team members at 909-480-1711.