Are you getting enough sleep?

Me neither.

I have recently developed a terrible habit of hitting my snooze button repeatedly each morning. So far, my record is 6 “snoozes.” Pathetic.

Intuitively, I know this is counterproductive. Repeatedly interrupting my last 45 minutes of sleep is not going to make me feel more rested when I eventually do drag my lazy bones out of bed.

But I’m…just…so…tired.

Why is that?

Experts say that all the time we spend wired into “glowing boxes” is messing with our brain chemistry.

Oh snap. I definitely spend a big chunk of time on the computer and on my cell phone every day. And since you’re here reading this, I’m guessing you do too.

I also have a sick addiction to watching old episodes of Criminal Minds every night. That’s the stuff of nightmares, let me tell you. Now that I know what the term “enucleate” means, I can never unknow it. {Gag.} Hey, I’ll save you the trip. An enucleator is one who removes the eyeballs of his victims. You’re welcome.

“The UNSUB’s profile indicates that he’s an eviscerating anthropophagic enucleator. Oooh, who brought donuts?”

Yep. We are a sleep-deprived nation, and it’s affecting our health.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, short sleep duration is linked with:

  • Increased risk of motor vehicle accidents
  • Increase in body mass index – a greater likelihood of obesity due to an increased appetite caused by sleep deprivation
  • Increased risk of diabetes and heart problems
  • Increased risk for psychiatric conditions including depression and substance abuse
  • Decreased ability to pay attention, react to signals or remember new information
Holy CRAP! Could that many of our issues really be related to not enough shut-eye?
 
Researchers Michael H. Bonnet and Donna L. Arand advise: “There is strong evidence that sufficient shortening or disturbance of the sleep process compromises mood, performance and alertness and can result in injury or death. In this light, the most common-sense ‘do no injury’ medical advice would be to avoid sleep deprivation.Did they say “injury or death”? Shoot…they had me at “obesity.”

I think we all better get some more sleep, people. Most adults should probably aim for about 7-8 hours a night.

Easier said than done, right? Well put down your Organic Whole Milk 3 Pump Vanilla 2 Pump Cinnamon Dolce Iced Frappuccino for two frickin’ minutes and pay attention…if you’re not too sleep-deprived to concentrate, that is. I’ve scoured the Internet for you to find all the best tips and tricks for getting a better night’s sleep!

Disclaimer: if you have a serious sleep disorder like sleep apnea or chronic insomnia, please seek real medical advice. I am not a licensed medical doctor. As if. 

Okay, here we go…

1. Make your bedroom sleep-friendly. That means clutter-free, no extreme temperatures, and no TV or computers. Hey, don’t shoot the messenger.

Bonus points if your bedroom is painted a tranquil, sleep-friendly color from the left side of the color wheel like pale blue or green. Cool colors actually reduce your pulse rate and therefore are more likely to induce restful sleep.

2. Keep your room dark and quiet at night. Buy blackout curtains if necessary. Too much light coming through the windows will mess with your circadian rhythms (natural sleep/wake patterns) and you won’t sleep as soundly.

3. Have a relaxing pre-bedtime ritual. A hot bath, reading a book in bed, listening to relaxing music…these are all good ways to calm the mind and get it ready for sleep. Avoid exercise or electronic time an hour before bed.

4. Establish a routine. Experts agree that it is best for our internal clocks if we go to bed at the same time each night and wake up at the same time each morning. I have one friend who puts on her jammies, washes her face, and flosses and brushes her teeth every night at 8:00 PM. She says getting her evening ablutions out of the way early discourages her from late night snacking or falling asleep in front of the TV with her makeup still on. Brilliant!

5. Limit caffeine to mornings only. Caffeine can cause sleep problems up to ten to twelve hours after drinking it. Yowza! Who knew? Consider eliminating caffeine after lunch or cutting back your overall intake. Hey, maybe we won’t need so much joe if we follow all these other tips!

6. Eat low-fat, high fiber foods. And avoiding eating three hours before you go to bed. Dr. Oz has lots of specific recommendations for foods that promote good sleep here.

7. Sleep on your back! Apparently sleeping on your stomach puts a lot of pressure on your internal organs, not to mention the wrinkles it adds to your face. Just don’t sleep on your back if you’re falling-down-drunk. All this beauty sleep won’t mean diddly-squat if you asphyxiate on your own vomit in the middle of the night. Ew!

And speaking of which…

8. Cut back on the hooch. Alcoholic beverages mess with your sleep patterns. Oh sure, a drink (or two) may initially help you fall asleep, but it also causes sleep disturbances later on in the night, resulting in less restful sleep overall. In addition, an alcoholic beverage before bedtime may make it more likely that you will wake up during the night to pee. Unless you’re totally wasted and piss your bed. Never pleasant.

9. Quit smoking. Nicotine is a stimulant, which disrupts sleep. Additionally, sleeping smokers actually experience nicotine withdrawal as the night progresses, making it hard to sleep. As if you needed another reason to quit smoking. Sheesh.

10. Sniff some lavender. Research has proven that a just a few drops of pure lavender essential oil (on a tissue under your pillow or in an aromatherapy diffusor) can help you sleep more soundly and feel more energetic the next day! Sweet! Now THIS, I can do!

11. Don’t let your pets or kids sleep with you. Sorry, co-sleepers. I know, this one’s tough for me too. But experts say that your kids’ and pets’ motion in the middle of the night can affect the quality of your sleep.

And one more, because I do enjoy a happy ending:

12. Have sex. Well what do you know?! I guess my husband is right when he says “Come on! It’s good for you!” Studies show that sex before bed helps relieve stress and release calming hormones that will help you to sleep more soundly. Bom-chicka-wha-whaaa!

Alrighty then, friends. We have our marching orders. Let’s go get some sleep!

-Iris

© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris.