Rock a Bye Baby in the Treetop When the Night Comes My Sleep is a Flop
Are you with me on this one? Oh, how I miss those wonderful days when I could lay down at night and just sleep like a baby. I know what the problems are, I read all the articles, I try to instill those good habits into my life, and sometimes I am actually successful. My thoughts are that if I am practicing the right habits, they work for the most part; I must not be one of the millions of sleep-deprived individuals that is zombie walking the earth.
According to an article in Newsweek, since the 1960’s we Americans are getting 1 – 2 hours less sleep per night. That is a lot of precious sleep. In the 70’s an average night’s sleep consisted of about 7 hours; now we get about 6 hours sleep per night and that’s considered a good night’s sleep. I hear talk from many folks, sometimes I included myself in that group, of getting 4-5 hours of sleep per night. Not so good!
You probably know what the culprits are don’t you. You probably continue to resist those behavioral changes because well, we enjoy our bad habits. However, what are the consequences? Let’s take a quick look at what is disturbing our sleep patterns and then I will shed some light on what changes can be made to regain back some of that precious sleep.
• Technology – that disruptive light from the televisions, Kindles, and phones suppresses our much-needed production of melatonin, the hormone that regulates our sleep and wake cycles.
• Technology AGAIN – the phone beside our bed that beeps, buzzes and bombards us with constant interruptions of news, information, conversations and junk that stimulates our brains with a big ole shot of dopamine. Really? Ask yourself, will I be a better, more productive, more informed person tomorrow if I read this information in the middle of the night as opposed to tomorrow morning when I am awake, rested, and refreshed?
• Caffeine & Alcohol – are you drinking too much and too close to bedtime?
• Is your lifestyle so hectic that you are unable to shut your brain down at night?
These are just a few of the disruptions that play havoc with our slumber and with that havoc come consequences.
• A study in the Proceedings of National Academy of Science states that sleep deprivation can cause a shift in expression of more than 700 genes.
• The cognitive consequences include:
o Poor insight
o Memory deficit
o Mood problems
o Toxins are not flushed from the brain without adequate sleep
• The physical consequences include:
o High blood pressure
o Cardiovascular disease
o Our body’s response to sugar is altered, hence the diabetes
Adults 18 and up should strive for 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Children need even more. Kids age 3-5 need 11- 13 hours of sleep, ages 5 – 10 need 10 – 11 hours of sleep, ages 10 – 17 need 8.5 – 9.5 hours of sleep. Why not start those kiddos out young and instill in them the importance of routine and adequate sleep by making it a priority not only for them but for you as well.
Here are a few tips to get you started.
• The bedroom should be dark, quiet, and cool.
• Your sleep should be ROUTINE seven days a week. Same time up, same time to bed.
• Gadgets go bye bye. No late night TV, computers, phones, Kindles.
• Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed as it leads to fragmented sleep.
• Avoid large meals right before bed. (indigestion/acid reflux from laying down)
• Don’t exercise right before bed. (gets the blood pumping and energizes you, try mornings instead)
• Warm bath with lavender.
• Try 5 minutes of mindfulness meditation using a timer and sitting quietly in a private area; remove the clutter of the day from your thoughts.
• If you cannot sleep, get up and do something that will help you sleep then go back to bed.
A good night’s sleep can make all the difference in the world in how your day will go, your mood, temper, patience, reactions towards food, people and your world. In today’s fast paced, modern, technological world it’s ok to stop and practice a few simplistic common sense habits of our ancestors.
So go have yourself an Andy Griffith evening swinging on the front porch, strumming the guitar and then sweet dreams my friends!
Resources used: Newsweek, Mayo Clinic, and Web MD