Getting those ZZZZZ's
There’s something I’ve been wondering about for a while, so I must ask: how many of you find yourselves waking up in the middle of the night (or in my case around 2 or 3 am) with your head spinning with all the things you need to get done the next day?
This always seems to happen when I need sleep most, which is when I have a huge number of things on my plate. My brain tries to solve all my problems and make me feel as though I need to start my day at 2am just to get it all done. The trouble is, experience tells me that I am much more productive, happy, and creative when I get a full night of sleep. So, I’ve gone on a little quest to find out more about how to get the rest I so desperately need, and why it matters.
The Consensus Statement of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and Sleep Research Society says:
“Sleeping less than 7 hours per night on a regular basis is associated with adverse health outcomes, including weight gain and obesity, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and stroke, depression, and increased risk of death. Sleeping less than 7 hours per night is also associated with impaired immune function, increased pain, impaired performance, increased errors, and greater risk of accidents.”
I don’t know about you, but that’s enough reason for me! Check out the tips below and see if any of them apply to you, and remember, practice makes perfect!
o Keep it constant: Research shows that a consistent sleep schedule is one of the best methods you can use to improve your sleep, which includes weekends. So, take time to wind down and dim the lights before bed, then expose yourself to light after you get up in the morning to signal to your brain that it’s time to get moving. To avoid blue light, remove electronics or utilize a blue-light reducing features such as f.lux or Night Shift.
o Pre-sleep routine: A few hours before bed is when you should start to slow down. This means avoid large meals, lower the lights, let go of your to do list, and do relaxing activities like reading, stretching, listening to music, or take a bath. Even 10 minutes of relaxation before bed can help. Plus, avoid vigorous exercise and bright lights right before bed. If you read before bed, use a light that isn’t so bright, closer to 15 watts.
o Avoid temptations: Use an alarm clock instead of your phone if you find yourself scrolling through it at night. If you still find yourself glancing at the time at night feel free to turn the clock to face the other direction so you can’t see it easily. If your to-do list is keeping you up, keep a notepad by your bed to get it off your mind.
o Give your bedroom a purpose: sleep and sex. Work, internet surfing, and TV should be outlawed. Consider getting a more comfortable mattress, sheets, pillows, and maintain a cool temperature to make your bedroom into the sleep sanctuary it is meant to be.
o Man’s best friend: If you have a pet sleeping in bed and it disturbs your sleep or triggers allergies, it may be time for them to sleep in their own bed. Contact a trainer for ideas to help train your pet to sleep in its own bed.
o Liquid troubles: It turns out that alcohol interferes with deep sleep, although it may make you feel sleepy initially. So, for a sound and restful night of sleep, limit your alcohol intake.
o Waking in the night: If noises wake you, consider using a white noise machine, a fan, air conditioning, or other noise-reducing options. If you find yourself waking up for any reason and struggling to get back to sleep, the best advice is to go to another room and do a relaxing activity until you feel tired again, rather than remaining frustrated in bed.
o Double edged sword: During the day, keep naps to 20 minutes or less if they help you get through the day. Longer naps can interfere with your natural rhythm and make it difficult to fall asleep at night.
o Get techy: If you want to try out some fun tech savvy methods, NBC has compiled a great list of options which can be found here.
It’s been difficult to stick to a consistent sleep schedule, especially on weekends, but the more I’ve focused on it the easier it has become. In all this, one of the methods I’ve found most helpful is to keep a pad of paper and pen by my bed so any time something pops into my brain, I can write it down (without even having to turn on a light!) and let go of it until morning. Plus, one of my goals this year was to do more reading, and the short 10 to 30 minutes I’ve started reading before bed has made a remarkable difference. Happy sleeping!
· Consensus Conference Panel; Recommended Amount of Sleep for a Healthy Adult: A Joint Consensus Statement of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and Sleep Research Society, Sleep, Volume 38, Issue 6, 1 June 2015, Pages 843–844, https://doi-org.proxybz.lib.montana.edu:3443/10.5665/sleep.4716
· National sleep foundation's sleep time duration recommendations: Methodology and results summary. Hirshkowitz M., Whiton K., Albert S.M., Alessi C., Bruni O., DonCarlos L., Hazen N., (...), Adams Hillard P.J. (2015) Sleep Health, 1 (1) , pp. 40-43. http://www.sleephealthjournal.org/article/S2352-7218(15)00015-7/abstract
· 14 Smart Products to Help You Fall Asleep Faster: NBC News. https://www.nbcnews.com/better/wellness/14-smart-products-help-you-fall-asleep-faster-n765111
· Healthy Sleep Tips: National Sleep Foundation. https://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-tools-tips/healthy-sleep-tips
· Twelve Simple Tips to Improve Your Sleep: Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School. Reviewed on December 18, 2007 http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/getting/overcoming/tips
Candace Garner is an RDN with a Master’s in Kinesiology through the University of Wyoming. She obtained her personal trainer certification through ACE and also teaches the Group Training and Boot Camp classes at Purenergy Fitness. She finds her inspiration from those individuals who are willing to put in the work to see real results, especially those who start from the bottom. She believes that you are capable of more than you realize, and that you are worth the investment in yourself and your future. She is very excited to be starting work with Purenergy because she believes it is a great platform to influence others in a positive way.