Why Do We Need to Sleep?
Sleep is one of the most important factors of recovery from exercise, stress, and well….life. Good sleep improves your blood panel markers, weight management, sport performance, recovery, work productivity, and management of diseases. The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports greater than 30% of Americans are sleep deprived. They classify this as getting less than 6 hours of sleep each night.
Studies show that we need 7-9 hours of sleep each night in order to recover properly. More than 30% of us are not getting enough sleep and that is a big issue!
What Causes Poor Sleep Hygiene?
Most people will blame a lack of enough time in the day for their poor sleep habits. However, this is typically not true. We just don’t make time for sleep. We make time at night to check our phones, respond to texts/emails, and watch television, but not to recover.
If you have children, think about their nighttime routine (brush teeth, read a story, turn the lights off, disconnect from the world, go to bed). Adults need good nighttime routines too. Far too often (I am guilty of doing this too), we will watch television, use our cell phones, work from our laptops up until we go to bed and usually while we are in bed. I will save the topic of how blue lights can affect your sleep for another time, but this routine alone does not support proper sleep hygiene.
We need to optimize our environment for sleep and get into a proper routine.
Optimal Sleep Environment
Dark rooms help with the control of your circadian rhythm via the suprachiasmatic nucleus. The suprachiasmatic nucleus is a region of the brain which drives wakefulness and inhibits the sleep center of the brain when light hits your eyes. As best as possible, you should remove electronics from your room and avoid LED lights via phones and alarm clocks. You should also keep your blinds/curtains closed to limit light from outside.
Cold rooms are known to help with sleep patterns. The ideal temperature for sleep is 64-68 degrees Fahrenheit.
Quiet rooms allow for relaxation. White noise machines or fans are fine, however you should not be able to hear a television, street noises, or loud neighbors.
Create a 10-Minute Nightly Routine
You should create a simple 10-minute routine to follow every night before bed which can be replicated if you are in a hotel room. This should be easy and relaxing. Some examples of activities are performing breathing exercises, performing light stretches, reading, or meditating. Here are some rules to use when making this routine:
No electronic devices
Cool room temperature
Once you make your routine, consistency is key. Your body will recognize that you are preparing for sleep and the sleep centers in the brain will be up-regulated.
You only get one body, and you need to take care of it! No one else will do this for you.
Corey Hall, PT, DPT