The article below was originally posted on Amy Hoogervorst’s Faith and Sweat blog, as part of a challenge to swap blog posts. Amy cares about sleep, and addresses how to wreck your life with less sleep. Her article can be read here.
We want it and we want it now.
We live in the information age, are constantly connected socially or professionally, and when we want sleep we want it now.
We must have it, or we cannot function.
“Gotta get it now, gotta get it now
Gotta get it now, I’m gonna take you down.”
We’re not really singing with the Black Eyed Peas, but we are singing for zzz’s. Whether or not we catch those zzz’s partly depends on our Circadian rhythms, our bodies’ natural clocks and when they get out of whack they can take us down. That’s why our whole schedule is messed up for a week or more when the time changes. The “spring forward” when Daylight Savings Time starts keeps us from springing anywhere gleefully for a week or so until our Circadian rhythms are restored.
How much sleep do we need? Experts suggest 7.5 to 9 hours of sleep is just about right for adults.
Sleep isn’t merely a time when the body shuts off and repairs itself. While you rest, your mind is still awake repairing and restoring itself so that you can live up to your full potential.
Regularly skimp on sleep and you’re headed for a breakdown.
If there’s a breakdown it might be because you’re in bed, and still can’t catch a wink of sleep. Maybe you got sucked in to your favorite program, football went long, or you were compelled to do a last minute social network check right before bed.
Everybody does it. Right? So, what’s the problem?
Blue wavelengths—which are beneficial during the day because they boost productivity—are harmful at night. The blue light from laptops, phones, TVs makes sleep difficult because it has a higher concentration of blue light than natural light, which suppresses the sleep inducing hormone melatonin. One aid is F.lux. It is a software that can be downloaded onto your computer and mobile devices to make them look like indoor lights. If you add your location the computer screen will automatically adjust when the sun rises or sets accordingly. Blue blocker glasses are another relatively inexpensive solution and a good alternative for those who don’t want to turn off the electronics at least an hour before bed.
Still can’t catch those zzz’s? Meditation may be the answer. Meditation is a tool for taming the voice in your head. It focuses on your breathing and bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future. It helps break the busyness in your head so that you can relax using whatever technique feels right to you. If you’d like to enjoy a trial meditation try headspace. Want to sleep like a baby? This meditation is designed to appeal to the kid in all of us. If you’ve had too little sleep, meditation may be the focus you need the next morning to increase a sense of calmness and clarity.
If successful sleep is elusive it may behoove you to recenter your Circadian rhythms, minimize electronic blue light, get some blue blocker glasses, or meditate.