Sleep is pretty important.
It affects everything from pain, to memory, to mood, to motor skill acquisition. It affects almost every tissue and system in our bodies. It's when we rest, recover, adapt, and grow.
If we can't sleep, we can quickly get ourselves in trouble.
In fact, some health experts consider it more important than diet and exercise.
However, most people don't get the >7 hours required for healthy sleep.
It's Like Being Drunk, without the Tasty IPAs
Poor sleep hygiene becomes a problem not only for health reasons (metabolic syndrome, chronic pain, anxiety/depression), but it also creates a society of drunks (cognitive impairments).
That's right. When we're sleep deprived, we become a society of stumbling drunks.
- Being awake for 17-19 hours straight is equivalent of having 2 drinks
- A week of only 6 hours of sleep/night is equivalent of a BAC of 0.1 (~5 drinks)
- Being awake for 24 hours straight is the same as being legally drunk
What to Do
There are many ways to clean up our sleep habits. Here's a quick list.
Start with just changing one thing at a time. Find the one action is most do-able. Have success with that variable. Then add to it over time.
There's no quick fix. It takes effort. It takes time and consistency.
So don't give up. Don't depend on drugs.
In fact, there's been some research that taking sleeping pills decreases your lifespan up to 12 years!
Another Helpful Tool - Pink Noise
Environment may be one of the most important variables.
The bedroom should be a comforting place that promotes healthy sleep.
But don't opt for the soothing sounds of a rainforest or a beach (white noise).
Instead, use pink noise. What's pink noise?
Pink noise is white noise's chill cousin. It's much like white noise, except it's a more balanced frequency that is even more soothing and relaxing.
Research has shown it's helpful for improving not only sleep quality but also memory.
A bonus is that the research was done on older adults, who often struggle with both sleep and memory. But it's not limited to one subgroup. Everyone will likely have these benefits.
So add some pink noise. We'll feel more rested and more intelligent the next day. Not a bad deal.
For more information on sleep and how to improve it check out my article here. Be sure to scroll down for the references if you really want to learn about how sleep impact your quality of life.