Americans are notorious for priding ourselves on productivity and how busy we are. As our schedules fill up, sleep is usually the first casualty. According to the Sleep Foundation, it is estimated that 1/3 of American adults are sleep deprived, a problem that is only worsening. Sleep deprivation is defined as getting less than the needed amount of sleep, which for adults, is 7-9 hours per night. With Daylight Savings approaching on Sunday March 14th, let’s review ways to improve our sleep.
In an article, Dr. Catherine Siengsukon outlines some tips for improving sleep quality:
• Cold dark room at about 60°F
• No heavy meals or alcohol 3 hours before bed
• Minimize screen time with use of blue light filtering
• No stimulating activity within 3 hours of bed
• (Moderate/high intensity exercise, video games, etc.
• Keep the bedroom for sleep and sex only
• (No TV, reading, laptop work, etc.)
Why should we care? Why is sleep important? Sleep is essential because it allows the the mind and body to recharge, improving energy. Without enough sleep, the brain cannot process as well, impairing concentration and memory processing. There are even studies suggesting that sleep disturbances contribute to increased perceived pain levels, contradicting popular belief that pain interferes with sleep. Put simply, more sleep will improve recovery, reduce pain and increase performance. If that’s not convincing enough, I’ll leave you with this quote by Dr. Matthew Walker, PhD and Author of Why We Sleep:
“Sleep is the greatest legal performance enhancing drug that most people are probably neglecting”
Siengsukon CF, Al-Dughmi M, Stevens S. Sleep Health Promotion: Practical Information for Physical Therapists. Phys Ther. 2017 Aug 1;97(8):826-836. doi: 10.1093/ptj/pzx057. PMID: 28789471.
Walker, M. (2017). Why We Sleep. Scribner.