Sleep is one of the most underrated aspects of health. Our society is seemingly constructed on the “sleep when you’re dead” mantra which is so wrong it’s not even funny. With enough sleep deprivation over the long term … living by that mantra might result in an early realization of it’s end.
We all want to be healthy, and a crucial part of being healthy is ensuring that our bodies, minds, and muscles get the recuperation they need to rebuild systems, build memories, and grow stronger through the process of sleeping.
Getting a good night sleep can be a rare thing for most people. Here’s three things that could be prime culprits that are scuttling your efforts to get good sleep.
Sleep Killer #1 – TV
Many people use relaxing infront of the TV as a way to unwind, and fall asleep. Aside from making it hard to get to bed on time, with the temptation to watch one more show, TVs emit blue light and can kill your quality of sleep.
Blue light is similar to that of the sun. So while your body is designed to wake and fall asleep according to the rising and setting of the sun, blue light tricks the body into waking up, when it should be falling asleep. Blue light blocks melatonin production, which is a crucial hormone that helps the body fall asleep. Reduced melatonin leads to restless sleep, and morning drowsiness1https://sleep.org/articles/is-it-bad-to-watch-tv-right-before-bed/.
In no case is watching TV in bed a good idea if you’re looking to get a good night’s sleep.
Sleep Killer #2 – Your Cell Phone
Just like your TV, your cell phone emits blue light. As discussed above this blue light inhibits melatonin productions, and therefore makes it hard to get to sleep. Beyond the blue light, your phone is a source of hormonal interaction. Each like on FaceBook, each favorite on Instagram, or retweet on Twitter is a source of dopamine and excitement. The need to continually refresh in search of the next hit will take it’s tole on how long you take to fall asleep. Even using the new blue light filters hasn’t been proven to prevent the harmful impact on your sleep2https://www.wired.com/2017/03/uncertain-science-behind-phones-blue-light-dimmer/.
Another reason your cell phone can inhibit a quality night sleep is the ability for audio alerts to seriously affect your sleep cycles while you sleep. Pulling you from deep into shallow sleep for the silliest of reasons. The constant alerts chirping from our phones can lead to hypervigilence3https://www.verywell.com/hypervigilance-2797363, a condition normally associated with PTSD.
Most health professionals will tell you, you shouldn’t sleep with your cellphone in the room. Leave it outside on a side-table in the hall or in the kitchen.
Sleep Killer #3 – Alcohol
Contrary to popular belief, while alcohol may help you “get to sleep” it will in the long run actually inhibit your ability to sleep deeply, and therefore eliminate the possibility of getting high quality sleep.
Drinking alcohol before sleep leads to increased delta-wave brain activity. Delta-waves are often associated with increased drowsiness and leads to restorative sleep. Good, right? Well, here’s the rub. There’s another wave that’s stimulated by alcohol pre-bed, alpha-waves4http://time.com/3671777/drinking-sleep/. Alpha-waves are normally only active while the body is awake. Thus the activity of both waves leads to disrupted sleep and messes with the circadian rhythm.
Not only does alcohol interrupt your circadian rhythm5https://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-topics/how-alcohol-affects-sleep, it also can block your REM(Rapid Eye Movement) sleep patterns for sleeping deeply. Less REM sleep means a less restful and restorative sleep6https://www.healthambition.com/effects-of-alcohol-on-sleep.
While most in health and fitness see alcohol as a touchy subject. Some feign it and say it’s evil, others don’t feel it should be demonized. Regardless of your view, if you choose to imbibe, realize that it’s going to hurt your sleep that night. If you imbibe frequently, start to look at how many night’s sleep are being impacted by the habit. Might be worth weaning down, or dare we say … eliminating.
Next week we’ll look at 5 ways you can significantly improve the quality of your sleep each night, and what benefits you’ll see above feeling rested. For more information on healthy living sign up for our weekly newsletter.
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