Have you ever heard someone say, “Sleep is a waste of time?” Maybe you’ve even said it yourself. Ever heard someone say they pulled an “all-nighter” to finish a school or work project? It’s easy to do that when you’re crunched for time and a deadline is breathing down your neck. But, sleep is a basic need for our survival!
I listened to the Ted Radio Hour podcast where Russell Foster talked about the three common explanations for why we need sleep. (https://www.npr.org/programs/ted-radio-hour/399796647/maslows-human-needs).
Theories of Our need for Sleep
Most people believe that we need to sleep to conserve energy, but research shows that we only save about 110 calories a night. Foster says this is equivalent to one hot dog bun!
The second theory is that we need to restore and rebuild. There’s evidence to show that certain genes in the brain are only turned on during sleep.
The final, and most followed idea, is that during sleep, we process and consolidate information. Less important information that’s gathered during the day is deleted. Novel solutions to complex problems are developed. Associations are formed during sleep from information gathered during the day, just like forming a jigsaw puzzle. Fascinating, huh?!
I’m sure you’ve felt less alert and creative the day after an all-nighter. Have you also noticed that a lack of sleep increases your appetite for carbohydrates, decreases your judgement, increases your chances of getting sick, and decreases your ability to defend yourself? As Shakespeare says, Sleep is “nature’s soft nurse.”
Here are some types to maximize your quality of sleep:
- Make your bedroom as dark as possible.
- Turn off all screens (TV, phone, Ipad, etc.)
- No caffeine (coffee, tea, chocolate) within 4 hours of bedtime. Or switch to decaf at noon.
- Take a hot bath or shower.
- Don’t eat within 4 hours of bedtime.
- Limit alcohol to one glass at dinner.
- Set a firm bedtime and wake up time.
- Move the TV out of the bedroom
- Exercise daily for 20 minutes, but not before bedtime.
- Turn down the thermometer.
- Get a good mattress. Spritz lavender or ylang ylang spray on your pillows.
- Sip calming herbal tea after dinner (chamomile).
- Have a glass of warm milk before bed.
- Use a white noise machine.
- Listen to 30 minutes of relaxing music before bed.
If you continue to have difficulty going or staying asleep, consider having a check up with your medical professional. Please call me to explore other possible causes for not getting a good night’s sleep. (404.518.0828 www.drsharman.com). Dr. Sharman I look forward to hearing from you!