Ask people what they deem most important in living a healthy lifestyle and you’ll probably get answers like diet and exercise. Sleep? Almost never mentioned. We spend roughly a THIRD of our life sleeping yet its value and contribution to our lives is more or less completely overlooked. Even Dr. Oz knows this! He stated on the Oprah Winfrey Network “the single most under-appreciated health problem in America is sleep.”
There have been countless other public figures or medical professionals echoing the same, but we’re going to just throw out 3, but highly reputable peeps! One is a guy named Bill Gates, the other Jeff Bezos and the 3rd, the Dalai Lama. You can be living in almost any part of the world and agree the word of these men carry weight.
“I like to get seven hours of sleep a night because that’s what I need to stay sharp and creative and upbeat,” he said in a Microsoft FAQ.
In a 2012 interview with Arianna Huffington, the Dalai Lama said he sleeps soundly for eight — sometimes nine — hours each night so he can feel completely rested the following day. He insists sleep is necessary for maintaining a calm, relaxed mind during the day.
“I’m more alert and I think more clearly,” Bezos told the Wall Street Journal. “I just feel so much better all day long if I’ve had eight hours.”
Benefits of proper sleep:
- Bolster memories
- Brain recharges, cells repair, and hormones released.
- Reduced cortisol levels / less stress
- Improved libido
- Weight management
- Improved skin quality
- Great daily productivity
Culture & Sleep Habits
According to The Guardian, in 1942, less than 8% of the population was trying to survive on six hours or less sleep a night; in 2017, almost one in two people are. On “Surgeon Oz” Dr.Oz noted, “…If you have the choice between an extra hour of sleep or an extra hour of working out, you sleep.”
"Catastrophic Sleep-Loss Epidemic"
The director of the Center for Human Sleep Science at the University of California, Berkeley, Matthew Walker, believes we are in the midst of a “catastrophic sleep-loss epidemic.” In his book, Why We Sleep, he examines the effects of our collective lack of sleep and its strong links to poor mental health, diabetes, cancer, and obesity to name a few. Mr. Walker notes that “no aspect of our biology is left unscathed by sleep deprivation. It sinks down into every possible nook and cranny. And yet no one is doing anything about it. Things have to change: in the workplace and our communities, our homes, and families.
With all that said, what are the solutions? That’s a personal question you have to answer yourself. Below are some habits and tricks you can try to improve your sleep. Leave a comment below -- did we miss any? What works for you? Sleep well, Sapiens.
Improve your sleep quality by:
Expose yourself to bright sunlight in the morning
Sun = Life. The closer to the time you get up, the better. Have your coffee outside, for example, or eat breakfast by a sunny window. The light on your face will help you wake up
Sleep in a pitch black room
Use heavy curtains or shades to block light from windows, or try a sleep mask. Also consider covering up electronics that emit light.
Put down the phone for the last hour of bed and read a book!
Reading will help you relax your mind and find your center. Plus reading is cool.Use heavy curtains or shades to block light from windows, or try a sleep mask. Also consider covering up electronics that emit light.
Avoid bright screens within 1-2 hours of your bedtime
The blue light emitted by your phone, tablet, computer, or TV is especially disruptive. You can minimize the impact by using devices with smaller screens, turning the brightness down, or using light-altering software such as f.lux.
Say no to late-night television
Not only does the light from a TV suppress melatonin, but many programs are stimulating rather than relaxing. If reading, isn't your thing, try listening to soothing music, a podcast or audio book instead.
Exercise during the day
People who exercise regularly sleep better at night and feel less sleepy during the day. Regular exercise also improves the symptoms of insomnia and sleep apnea and increases the amount of time you spend in the deep, restorative stages of sleep. The more vigorously you exercise, the more powerful the sleep benefits. But even light exercise — such as walking for just 10 minutes a day — improves sleep quality. Just be careful how close you exercise to bedtime. For most people, exercising within an hour of going to sleep can interrupt your rest.
Limit caffeine and nicotine
Caffeine has a long half life, meaning it can disrupt your sleep for up to 5 to 6 hours after drinking it! Similarly, smoking is another stimulant that can disrupt your sleep, especially if you smoke close to bedtime.
Avoid big meals at night
Try to make dinnertime earlier in the evening, and avoid heavy, rich foods within two hours of bed. Spicy or acidic foods can cause stomach trouble and heartburn.
Avoid alcohol before bed
While a nightcap may help you relax, it interferes with your sleep cycle once you’re out.
Avoid drinking too many liquids in the evening
Drinking lots of fluids may result in frequent bathroom trips throughout the night or shorten what otherwise was a wonderfully deep & restorative sleep.