Less of a ‘trick’ and more of a ‘technique’ - but it works!
It's that time of year again. No, not just tax season (March 15th/April 15th) and daylight savings time (March 11th, 2am)... but National Sleep Awareness Month (all March long)!
Now, we could bury you in basic facts and myths about sleep, but we'll leave that to the National Sleep Foundation and their sister site, Sleep.org. Both sites contain more knowledge about sleep than you'll ever want to know, and we highly recommend spending time there if you are struggling with your sleep health.
Instead, today we'll talk about a few ways to invest in your sleep. If you were to think of improving your energy throughout the day, getting better recovery after strenuous workouts, improving your general mood, or improving work or personal relationships as returns, then a great place to invest to achieve those returns is in your sleep.
Invest your TIME to Sleep Better
First, make sure you are allowing enough time for healthy sleep, generally about 8 hours. Also allow 20-30 minutes to not rush to bed. Rushing to bed while concerned about an early rise is generally not conducive to healthy sleep. Instead, establish a pre-sleep routine. The National Sleep Foundation recommends a “relaxing, routine activity right before bedtime” as one of their many sleep tips. This 20-30 minutes allows one to unwind and begin to relax ahead of actually laying down to sleep. You should begin the routine shutting down computers and tv's, running the dishwasher, and getting changed into sleepwear. This is also a great time to enjoy a delicious sleepyhead while you complete your routine, followed by brushing your teeth, and then... lights out!
Invest in your bedding to Sleep Better
If you haven't bought a mattress in over a decade, it might be worth considering, as there have been many innovations in recent years.
Sleep6 might have a solution for those who struggle with sleep temperature - they offer an innovative mattress with a technology called Responsegel® which “allows you to sleep at the right temperature".
Are you one of the many who prefer the weight of a comforter even when its warm? Well now there is a weighted blanket called Gravity designed “to relax the nervous system by simulating the feeling of being held or hugged. This increases serotonin and melatonin levels and decreases cortisol levels"... all conducive to sleep.
We are also now living in the age of the "smart" mattress. Eight offers a mattress with built in sleep-tech that tracks sleeping patterns, manages temperatures, and integrates with other smart-home technology such as the Nest thermostat and Amazon's Alexa.
Invest in technology to Sleep Better
Most of your technology is more likely to interfere with you sleep, but it doesn't have to be that way. There are an abundance of apps, wearables, and other devices that promote better sleep. Among them, Beddit is a device designed to be hidden under your sheet, rather than to be worn, which automatically tracks sleeping patterns and stages of sleep, and includes a feature that detects snoring. Fitbit offers wearables, namely the Alta HR and Ionic models which automatically track sleep duration and consistency, including light, deep, and REM sleep stages to help users understand the quality of their sleep. Sonic Sleep Coach is an virtual sleep coach app which offers alarms, sleep sounds, tracks sleep patterns, and more. Lastly, if you are the type that works late in front of your computer, spare your eyes the white and blue wavelengths... install flux on your PC or use Apple's Night Shift if you use an Apple device.
Invest in your nutrition to Sleep Better
Most people counter poor sleep with caffeine first thing in the morning. Coffee, energy drinks, tea, whatever the source... caffeine is seen as a solution, but as we've written before, it's a temporary solution at best. Instead, avoid caffeine during the day and reward yourself with a bed-time snack. Nutritionist Danielle DeGroot discusses bedtime snacking, and provides some key insight as to how a "snack composed of a variety of macronutrients (protein, healthy fat/complex carbs)" might aid sleep as it "will slow digestion, keeping you satisfied longer, offer more nutrition and regulate blood sugars better throughout the night". Apple with almond butter, yogurt with granola, and a handful of other recommendations are mentioned in Danielle's write-up. Of course, sleepyhead is a delicious bed-time snack, and contains the nutritional supplements melatonin, GABA, and valerian root, each of which aid in achieving a return on your sleep.
If you want those returns, you need to invest! Use code NSAM to save 20% through the end of National Sleep Awareness Month 2018!
The new year has arrived, and there's a decent chance you made a resolution for 2018. While there's an even greater likelihood you already quit that resolution, if you haven't, you should consider swapping it with "Get More Sleep."
We’re all aware of sleep's importance, yet for some reason, we fail to make it a priority. It's essential for optimal living, and likely plays a crucial role in the success or failure of whatever other New Year's Resolution you were trying on for size.
Here are five reasons to put this resolution to practice for 2018.
1- Maintain a Healthy Weight
If you made the resolution to lose weight in 2018, you should definitely prioritize sleep and implement an earlier bedtime.
To make that earlier bedtime easier, stick to a sleep schedule of the same bedtime and wake up time - even on the weekends. This helps to regulate your body's clock and can help you fall asleep and stay asleep for the night.
Snoozing is essential for maintaining your body’s ideal weight since sleep and metabolism are controlled by the same sectors of the brain. Therefore, when you’re sleepy, certain hormones in your blood rise, and those same hormones drive appetite. Researchers at the University of Chicago found that dieters who were well rested lost more fat than those who were sleep deprived. Dieters in the study also felt more hungry when they got less sleep.
2- Improves Memory
If you made a resolution to pick up a new hobby, language, or sport - you must first resolve to get better sleep. Your mind is surprisingly busy while you snooze. During sleep you undergo a process called ‘consolidation’ in which you strengthen memories and “practice” skills you learned while you were awake.
If you are trying to learn something, whether it’s physical or mental, you learn it to a certain point with practice, and something happens during sleep that makes you learn it better.
3- Reduces Inflammation In Body
For optimal health, sleep is essential. Inflammation is serious - it’s linked to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, and premature aging. Research indicates that people who get less than six hours of sleep a night have higher blood levels of inflammatory proteins than those who get more.
A 2010 study found that C-reactive protein, which is associated with heart attack risk, was higher in people who got six or fewer hours of sleep a night.
While getting enough sleep doesn’t guarantee a sunny disposition, you’ve probably noticed that when you’re exhausted, you tend to be crankier.
Lack of sleep affects your emotional regulation. When you’re overtired, you’re more likely to snap at your family, burst into tears, or laugh uncontrollably.
5- Stronger Immunity
This one is especially important during cold and flu seasons.
Preliminary studies suggest that getting 8 hours of nightly sleep could help prevent the common cold. During the study, researchers tracked more than 150 people and monitored their sleep habits for two weeks. After participants were exposed to the cold virus, researchers found that those who got seven (or less) hours of sleep a night were almost three times as likely to get sick as those who got at least eight hours of nightly sleep.
So if 2018 is the year to achieve your ideal body weight, improve your health, get skilled at a new hobby, and focus on your happiness - all while staying clear of the common cold and flu - you must prioritize sleep.
We often receive inquiries regarding the effectiveness of sleepyhead for "insomnia". But, the question is not as easy to answer as one might think, primarily because of the semantics related to the word "insomnia".
Because "insomnia" is used so broadly, some experts, including the National Sleep Foundation, distinguish between acute insomnia and chronic insomnia.
Acute insomnia is how we think of occasional sleeplessness: characterized as the infrequent inability to fall asleep or remain asleep in otherwise healthy individuals without an underlying medical or psychological condition.
The most common cause of occasional sleeplessness is stress related to work or family life. We've all been there. Deadlines, travel, or changes to our usual routine such as caring for a child with the flu might contribute. In most instances, we are still able to function following a night of less than optimal sleep, and are able to return to a healthy sleeping pattern without professional medical attention. For occasional sleeplessness, try sleepyhead or another natural sleep aid.
Chronic insomnia, by contrast, is characterized as "disrupted sleep that occurs at least three nights per week and lasts at least three months", according to the National Sleep Foundation.
Chronic insomnia may be caused by environmental factors, unhealthy sleep habits, and unusual work hours, but often may be caused by other clinical disorders or underlying illness. Chronic insomnia can significantly inhibit ones ability to function during the day and may include experiencing trouble concentrating, excess fatigue, increased irritability, and loss of motor coordination, among other symptoms.
If you believe you are suffering from chronic insomnia, we highly recommend seeking advice and/or treatment from a licensed physician.
It’s estimated that 50-70 million people in the U.S. have sleep or wakefulness disorders, resulting in poor quality sleep. We’ve already learned that a lack of sleep can lead to packing on some pounds due to an increased fast food craving, but scientists have recently found that what time you go to bed also can have the same negative effect.
The study included 96 participants between the ages of 18 and 50 who were healthy and slept 6.5 hours or more at night. For seven days, the participants wore actigraphs to monitor their rest and activity cycles and track their food intake and physical activity.
When researchers analyzed the information from the actigraphs with circadian rhythms and participants’ body fat, they found that those who went to bed later ate more unhealthy food, less vegetables, and worked out less. Despite this, later sleep times were also linked to a lower body mass index.
"Our results help us further understand how sleep timing in addition to duration may affect obesity risk," lead investigator Dr. Kelly Glazer Baron, of the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University, said in a statement. "It is possible that poor dietary behaviors may predispose individuals with late sleep to increased risk of weight gain."
Researchers hypothesize that circadian rhythms and our sleep-wake cycle could be associated with metabolism, and that disrupting them could lead to obesity. Poor sleep has long been linked to health issues, such as diabetes, mental health problems, and heart problems.
Fight Sleep Apnea with Aerobic Exercise For over 18 million Americans, sleep apnea causes problems falling and staying asleep, leading to groggy mornings and a lack of alertness during the workday. What if you could help lessen its negative effects?
Dr. Paul Pagley of The Sleep Disorders Center at Heart Hospital of Austin suggests that exercise can help people with sleep apnea sleep better.
Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder that makes you stop breathing in your sleep, causing you to wake up and breathe normally. Breathing pauses can last for a few seconds all the way up to a few minutes, and more than 30 breathing pauses can occur in the course of an hour. These constant sleep interruptions lead to lower quality sleep.
Dr. Pagley says that several studies have found that people with sleep apnea who participate in regular aerobic exercise decreased the severity of their sleep apnea. They woke up fewer times during the night during breathing pauses and they also felt that their sleep quality improved as a whole. Exercising also reduces complications with sleep apnea, such as heart and lung issues.
Suggested aerobic activities to lessen the effects of sleep apnea are walking, jogging, or pilates, exercises where your heart is pumping.
Dr. Pagley added that regular exercise helps with sleep quality even if you don’t have sleep apnea, as you will fall asleep quicker and stay asleep longer.
Most of us are reliant on our morning coffee to wake us up and get us ready for the day ahead, but is it really working? The American Academy of Sleep Medicine investigated just how effective our daily cup of Joe is at keeping us alert and awake after multiple low-sleep nights.
48 participants limited their sleep to five hours over the course of five nights. Half of the participants were given 400mg of caffeine (the equivalent of four cups of coffee) and the other half was given a placebo every morning during the five days.
After receiving their pills, the participants underwent a variety of tests to look at their mood, sleepiness, vigilance, and cognitive ability.
During the first two days, the participants with the caffeine supplement overwhelmingly performed better than the control group. However, three days of not getting enough sleep later, the caffeine supplement had no effect on boosting the performance of the participants, and the control group was performing just as well as the test group was.
"These results are important, because caffeine is a stimulant widely used to counteract performance decline following periods of restricted sleep,” said lead author Tracy Jill Doty, PhD of the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research. “The data from this study suggests that the same effective daily dose of caffeine is not sufficient to prevent performance decline over multiple days of restricted sleep."
In short, coffee can be a quick fix for one day of less sleep, but it is not a longterm solution.
Struggling to get a full 8 hours in at night? There may be a scientific reason behind your restlessness.
Scientists have found that split sleeping, or sleeping for two shorter periods rather than a solid span of time, used to be how humans got shuteye.
Dr. Melinda Jackson of RMIT University in the UK says that our notion of a “good night’s sleep” is a rather new idea for humans. This may explain why around a third of the population has trouble sleeping. These problems could be biological results of our old sleeping habits, and our bodies are just trying to wake us up in the middle of our two sleep periods.
Why did our ancestors choose this sleep pattern? For one, the split sleeping may increase our awareness during the day. It also allows for greater flexibility for daily tasks. Since there was no set bedtime, they were able to finish what was needed, sleep when they were tired, and resume the cycle once more, finally awakening for the day around dawn.
Researchers say that there are many references made to two distinct sleep periods in ancient texts, but don’t let that confuse you: Split sleeping is not a thing of ancient history. It’s known that preindustrial societies in Europe used split sleeping, normally allowing for 13 hours between sleeping periods. Historian A. Roger Ekirch found that first and second sleep, as it was called, began to die out in Europe in the late 17 th century and took the next 200 to do so in the rest of the world. Around this same time came the idea of sleep maintenance, or the importance of sleeping throughout the entire night. This extra pressure may have added to preexisting anxiety about sleep and ended up making things worse.
To determine what sleeping pattern humans gravitate to naturally, psychiatrist Thomas Wehr conducted an experiment in the 1990s. His subjects were left in total darkness for 14 hours every day, instead of the 8 hours that we are accustomed to in everyday life. This prolonged darkness occurred for a month. Although it did take some time for sleep patterns to emerge, by the fourth week there were clearly two phases of sleep. The first sleep was for around four hours, and then subjects woke up for one to three hours. They fell asleep for another four hours shortly after. This research suggests that our internal clocks are pushing for two sleep periods and the issues we face with sleeping are a result of our fight against our bodies.
Biphasic sleeping, an evolution of split sleeping, is still common today. Spaniards still use a form of split sleeping with their “siesta.” You may also be familiar with the “postlunch dip” that is a physical side effect of our body’s internal clocks and causes a decrease in alertness.
Information from: DailyMail.co.uk