What does it take to get a good night’s sleep? Earlier this month, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine released a campaign to make Americans aware of the importance of sleep for good health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in three adults in that country gets less than seven hours a night. “We know that chronic sleep deprivation is associated with damage to the general condition of any individual, decreasing their immunity and increasing the risk of the emergence of numerous diseases. Not sleeping also interferes with mood regulation and mental health,” said Jennifer Martin, professor at UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles) School of Medicine.
If you suffer from insomnia, you are not alone. Actress Jennifer Aniston, the unforgettable Rachel from “Friends”, recently went public to say that the problem has been with her for decades, but that she took a long time to look for a doctor: “I realized that I was lethargic, eating poorly, with no desire to exercising and with big dark circles under my eyes”. South Korea is one of the countries with the highest rates of sleep deprivation in the world, with devastating effects on its population. Second reportage of the BBC, addiction to rollover medicine has become a national epidemic.
Study from Northwestern University shows that when we sleep, even moderate light exposure impairs cardiovascular function and increases insulin resistance. “The results indicate that just one night in a moderately lit room is capable of altering cardiovascular and glucose regulation in the body,” explained Phyllis Zee, head of the department of sleep medicine at the institution. The investigation proved that the heart rate increased and the subjects had insulin resistance in the morning. Participants were unaware of the changes that occurred at night, but the researchers confirmed the disturbances. “It is as if this sleep were light and fragmented”, said Dr. Daniela Grimaldi, one of the authors of the work.
Here are ten recommendations from sleep hygiene experts:
- Exercise during the day, but not in the two hours before going to bed.
- Don’t take naps during the day.
- At night, avoid caffeine and alcohol. Heavy meals and excess liquids also get in the way.
- Create a routine to slow down at night. Take a warm bath, listen to relaxing music, read a book.
- Lower the room temperature.
- Do not leave lights on in the room. Draw the drapes, install blackouts, and wear a sleep mask if you need to.
- No electronic devices, such as cell phones and tablets, near the bed. Watch TV only in the living room.
- Invest in comfort: a good mattress and pillow(s) make all the difference.
- Visualize things or places that make you happy.
- Use the relaxation method created by physician Andrew Weil known as 4-7-8 (in this video, he teaches how to do it himself). Follow the steps, but don’t worry if you can’t follow them exactly: go at your own pace!
- Gently place your tongue behind your upper teeth
- Release all the air through the mouth
- Then inhale through your nose for a total of 4 seconds
- Hold your breath for 7 seconds
- Exhale through your mouth for 8 seconds, making a “shuuuu” sound, until all the air has been expelled.
- Repeat the process four times