Sleep Habits

A good article appeared on The Ladders regarding how to get the most out of sleep and the risks associated with not getting enough sleep. Some of this I knew, but for some I required a reminder.

Inadequate sleep affects

  • Blood sugar levels, raising the level to a prediabetic state
  • Arteries, creating a recurser to coronary disease
  • Psychiatric states, enhancing conditions like depression
  • Motor skills creating problems similar to DUI

“So if you’re fond of saying, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead”, well, that may be happening a lot faster than you anticipated.”(1)

Eight hours are required for memory and brain skill development and to enable the brain to come to grips with problems encountered during the day. In turns out that the phrase, “sleep on it”, is factual and useful in discussing how to resolve a problem.

Quoting from Walker’s Why We Sleep,

REM-sleep dreaming offers a form of overnight therapy. That is, REM-sleep dreaming takes the painful sting out of difficult, even traumatic, emotional episodes you have experienced during the day, offering emotional resolution when you awake the next morning.(2)

Sleep is when the brain sorts out messes, “takes out the trash” and otherwise prepares you for the next day.

The phrase “beauty sleep” is also real.

What’s required for sound sleep:

  • Eight hours — no less or more. Too much is as much a problem as to little.
  • Soft lighting in the hours before sleep and no light in the bedroom. Any light can reduce melatonin release that occurs during sleep. Blue light is the worst, but any is bad.
  • No caffeine for 10-12 hours before bed.
  • No alcohol or sleeping pills before bed. Both have an amnesia effect, causing people to forget what they learned during the day. They also create an artificial form of sleep without the benefits of real sleep.
  • Cool room temperature for sleeping.
  • If you have chronic insomnia, pills aren’t the answer. The article recommends sleeping less, which will induce fatigue that allow you to get a sound sleep. You cut back to five hours of sleep, and then gradually increase the time until you reach eight hours.

Good to remember, good to do.

As I read more on this topic, I’ll add to this post.


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