GREENSBORO, N.C. (PRWEB) August 03, 2020
What is the purpose of sleep? Most of us would answer, “to rest” — but how many of us could come up with a more detailed response? Other than when we feel sick or tired from a long day at work, or working all day inside our own home, a lot of us don’t really jump to accusing our poor sleeping habits or our own daily choices of how we spend our time. Why is that? Dr. Deedra Mason, Market America’s Director of nutraMetrix® and Clinical Education, put it perfectly when she introduced the quote by “sleep diplomat” Dr. Matthew Walker, a sleep doctor, that says “You would be surprised to know that human beings are actually the only species that deprives itself of sleep for no good reason.”
From binge-watching our favorite Netflix shows to having that feeling of not being able to turn our brains off at night, there are many habits that lead us to poor sleep that we don’t seem to notice or take steps to break. Well, it turns out sleep is not high on the list of priorities for most Americans. The National Sleep Foundation reported that when asked which of five items was most important to them, of the more than 1,000 men and women polled, sleep fell at number four, while fitness and nutrition, work and hobbies and interests ranked higher. In fact, humans have taken neglecting their sleep to a level at which the term “revenge bedtime procrastination” has been coined.
While there are many reasons people prioritize other interests over sleep, the term “revenge bedtime procrastination” may bring to light the reason we put off sleep. The concept of “bedtime procrastination” was defined by researchers in the Netherlands in 2014 for the act of failing to go to bed at a certain time with nothing standing in the way of someone actually going to sleep. Then, in 2016, a new word was added to make the full term “revenge bedtime procrastination,” which started trending on various social media platforms in China. This revised term took on the meaning of resisting sleep early to seize the freedom to spend your night hours doing what you wanted to do but could not during work hours. For example, busy parents who spend all day tending to their kids may stay up late watching TV or relaxing because it’s the only time they can take for themselves.
So, with many of us struggling to prioritize this critical period of rest, let’s take a quick dive into the importance of sleep! From aiding in solidifying and consolidating memories to growing muscle and from synthesizing hormones to repairing tissue, sleep serves a lot of purposes. For example, many of the steps involved in processing and storing our memories happen when we sleep. The problem is that it’s very hard to determine what goes on in our brains and bodies during that time.
One way in which researchers determine what goes on while we sleep and its importance to our health is through studying sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation has many consequences, including increasing the risk of certain diseases, influencing day-to-day performance and even affecting public safety.
Harvard Health also discussed the impact of sleep deprivation on performance and public safety. Poor-quality sleep can lead to more errors in the workplace due to its impacts on our ability to focus and access higher-level cognitive functions. It can also decrease productivity and increase accidents caused by lapses such as falling asleep at the wheel. Needless to say, sleep deprivation is detrimental to our proper functioning.
Last but not least, it’s important to recognize the difference between men and women when it comes to sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, men and women experience sleep differently. It all starts with the circadian rhythms; your internal clock. This is what helps regulate when you feel tired and when you feel alert, and male and female circadian rhythms differ. Typically, men’s internal clocks run truer to a 24-hour cycle than women’s internal clocks. This makes women more likely to wake up earlier and men feel less tired in the evening. Men also recover slower than women do from sleep deprivation, while women have shorter sleep cycles, leaving them with less energy at night. It’s important to remember, however, that your internal clock is trainable and that these biological differences may not hold true to each individual.
With that all being said, let’s get into some tips and tricks on how you can improve your quality of sleep and in turn, your quality of life:
1. Create a pre-sleep routine. Implementing a few relaxation techniques before bedtime can help ease your mind and prepare your brain and body to rest. For instance, if you read before heading to bed, your body knows that reading at night signals that it’s time to sleep. The same concept can be applied to taking a warm bath or stretching. Even better, if you stick to it daily, you can end each day with a few moments of peace. Who wouldn’t want that?
The National Sleep Foundation provides simple ways to relax before bedtime. Starting with a to-do list will help get rid of those wandering thoughts that love to linger at night. By creating a to-do list, you’ll know what you want to get accomplished the next day and not have to lie in bed worrying. Next comes breathing. As simple as it may sound, taking a few slow, deep breaths can help tell your body that you’re ready to relax. Tuning into your physical senses will further aid in relaxing. This way, instead of having distracting thoughts, you’re paying attention to simple things like the sound of crickets chirping or how it feels when you relax your toes. (A great way to relax your whole body is through starting with your toes and working your way up your body in sections).
2. Stick to a schedule. Once you have a sleep routine that you like, stick to it! First and foremost, it’s important to start prioritizing your sleep. Eight hours of sleep is the recommended amount, but the most recent survey showed that of the 2,000 surveyed, the average American reported getting only five-and-a-half hours of sleep. With so many people putting their work and hobbies before sleep, it’s hard to get into a routine in which we take our sleep as seriously as our work. By implementing a set schedule into your routine, you’ll be able to regulate your body’s internal clock, improving your sleep quality in the long run. For example, if you go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning, it will become a habit, allowing you to fall asleep more easily at the designated time.
3. Make your bed the optimal sleep environment. As difficult as it may sound, it’s probably best to stop binge-watching in bed. The more frequently we do things like watching TV in bed, paperwork and homework, the more we associate our beds as places to be productive, not rest. Keeping your bed as a place for sleep will help you create a clear association with your bed and sleep. Also make your room an optimal area for sleep by keeping it dark, quiet and at a comfortable temperature.
4. Start a worry journal. Another great exercise is writing down your worries, preferably not right before bed. A worry journal can help you process troubling thoughts and you can work out solutions so that you don’t have to wait until bedtime to think about them. This way, you can deal with those thoughts that go racing through your head before you even get in bed! If that doesn’t completely do the trick and you still find those negative thoughts popping up at night, try to be conscious of them and focus on good memories or things that bring you joy as you fall asleep.
5. Sleep with your pet. When analyzing 40 dog owners, studies found that owners who slept with their dogs in their bedrooms, but not on their beds, achieved an 83% sleep efficiency (with 80% being satisfactory), while those who slept with their dogs in bed with them had a lower sleep efficiency of 80%. This is because those who sleep with their dogs wake up throughout the night. So, having your furry friend in your bedroom may actually aid in creating better sleep; just make sure they have their own bed!
6. Don’t keep looking at the clock. Most of us have had restless nights when all we do is stare at the clock and wonder why an hour has gone by and we still don’t feel tired. By turning your clock away from you, you can create a more efficient sleep routine. If you feel like too much time has gone by and you still can’t fall asleep, get up and do something relaxing like reading, stretching or making a cup of tea — then get back in bed. The more you sit in bed thinking about how you can’t fall asleep, the more you start to consider your bed as a place to think, not sleep!
7. Try supplements. If you feel like you’ve started to prioritize sleep more but are still struggling to get into a good routine, sleep aids may help. For example, a supplement like Isotonix Essentials® Turn Down helps enhance and stabilize mood, may promote calmness and relaxation, promotes sleep, helps clear the mind and supports sleep quality.* Also make sure to check out Isotonix® Magnesium, a supplement that supports healthy sleep and optimal muscle health and comfort!* Supplements are not something you have to implement for the rest of your life, but they might help you adjust to your new sleep schedule. Always make sure to consult your health care provider if you have any doubts or concerns.
8. Consider a sleep specialist. Maybe you’ve already tried every trick under the stars when it comes to sleep or maybe you have a feeling that there’s something else affecting your sleep. If that’s the case, consider speaking with your health care provider about your problems. In some instances, your doctor may recommend that you visit a sleep lab for a sleep analysis that can provide you with insights. Check out this Q&A by the National Sleep Foundation for more information on sleep labs.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product(s) is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.