The State of Sleep Archive

Part I of The State of Sleep revealed that people are getting less and less sleep as we venture into a world full of 24/7 Internet connectivity, economic potholes, and other distractions stealing time away from sleep. The negative effects of sleep deprivation on health and safety are rather shocking, ranging from depression to cardiovascular disease to traffic accidents.

Now that we all know we need more sleep, let’s talk a little bit about how to get there and things that improve the quality of the little sleep we do get. You may have heard these before, but were you really listening? Here are some tips for better sleep, adapted from the

  • Stick to a schedule: go to bed and get up about the same time every day, even on the weekends. This reinforces your body’s sleep-wake cycle.
  • Avoid nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol in the evening. Also watch fatty or spicy foods if you are prone to heartburn.
  • Regular physical activity can help you fall asleep faster, but not within 3 hours of bed time.
  • Your bedroom should be comfortable. The best conditions for falling asleep are cool, dark, and quiet. Invest in quality bedding, pillows, and mattress.
  • Start a relaxing bedtime routine: do the same things each night to tell you body it’s time for bed. Try taking a warm (not hot) bath, reading a book, or listening to music. Lower the lights if possible.

Eliminating distractions is also key to falling asleep on time and getting a good night’s rest. Remove electronic devices such as laptops, televisions, and mobile phones from the bedroom as much as possible. Not only do these devices cause distractions, but the blue light emitted from their screens can disrupt the sensors in your brain that recognize nighttime as time to go to sleep. Many people believe they have insomnia simply because they do not turn out the lights and go to bed.

Looking for more Sweet tips to increase the quality and quantity of your sleep? Check out these resources from WebMD’s Sleep Disorders Health Center:

Alternative Treatments for Insomnia

10 Tips to Get Better Sleep

Sleep 101: Getting Back to the Basics of Sleep

More information from the

Foods That Help You Sleep

Once more, with feeling: Please note that I am not a physician. I cannot diagnose insomnia or sleep disorders, nor can I prescribe treatment. The preceding is simply the result of my own online research and personal experiences, meant to inform and entertain. If you think you may have a sleep disorder, please consult a medical professional immediately.

Bitter/Sweet: The State of Sleep, Part I

Wednesday, March 11th, 2009

Daylight Saving Time may have you feeling a bit groggy from losing an hour this past weekend and shifting daylight from morning to evening, but the truth is that Americans may be getting less sleep now than ever before. CNN reported that the average amount of sleep people get per night has decreased.

The primary culprit? Living in a 24/7 instant connection world. The Internet is available virtually everywhere and to anyone with a mobile phone. Email and social network sites make it easy to reach friends, family, and complete strangers in a matter of seconds.

Stress from the economy is also contributing to more tossing and turning at night. People may also be working longer hours, contributing to sleep loss. Other distractions like television are also keeping people out of bed for longer amounts of time.  

Light pollution, such as increased street and parking lot lights, store signage, animated billboards, and other forms of artificial light during the night, can make it harder to fall asleep. Noise pollution, such as air craft and other motor vehicles, can also lead to sleep disturbance. Neighbors are also likely to stay awake later and longer, leading to additional noise and light disturbance.

Sleep deprivation can have devastating effects on the mind and body. According to US News, skimping on sleep can lead to depression, anxiety, alcohol abuse, increased blood pressure and cardiovascular problems, obesity, diabetes, and lower life spans in generally.

Adults suffering from sleep deprivation are more likely to be involved in a traffic accident, while older adults may lose balance and suffer more falls. Children with sleep deprivation are more prone to hyperactivity and attention deficit disorders.

Feeling Bitter about lack of sleep and its potential implications on your health? Stayed tuned for The State of Sleep, Part II for some Sweet advice for increasing the amount of sleep you get each night (and maybe ward off some of that insomnia).