Work Hard, Sleep Harder: How to Improve Your Sleep Health
With overscheduled days, full of endless to-do lists, managing playdate schedules, and trips to the grocery store, it’s impossible to avoid the stress that comes with working hard. According to a 2016 study, Americans work 25% more than Europeans. Couple that with overscheduled “free” time and messages that demonize the importance of sleep and it is no wonder that many Americans are carrying around sleep debt. Dr. Sujay Kansagra talked with EverydayFamily’s Shiloh Johnson to discuss findings from a new survey showing how stress may be affecting your ability to get a good night’s sleep. See the full interview here.
Simply put, sleep makes our work – and our lives – better. Dr. Kansagra told us about a study recently conducted by Mattress Firm. The study was called ‘Dozed and Confused: Why Americans Have Trouble Sleeping.’ It was designed to show how much the little choices you make each day affect your sleep health.
Dr. Kansagra explained that the study showed people who reported in the highest stress level category were:
- 60% more likely to watch TV an hour before bed.
- More than twice as likely to post to social media an hour before bed.
- Twice as likely to check email an hour before bed.
- More than 40% more likely to sleep with their phone next to their bed.
If you’re in the highest stress level category, you’re 3x as likely to grind your teeth (bruxism) and 5x as likely to report insomnia at least once a month.
Dr. Kansagra also noted that Millenials were the generational group that reported the highest levels of stress.
Quantity of sleep depends a lot on age. As infants, humans need between 12-18 hours of sleep. As we get older, those numbers go down, and by the time we reach adulthood we need 7-9 hours of sleep.
Quality is affected by so many factors. People who sleep with pets in their room reported higher stress levels. Pets may create a situation that results in less quality of sleep, so try to get pets out of your room at night.
And, of course, technology is another factor that can disrupt sleep. Now, as parents, we have apps for everything! Many parents have apps to help encourage and track chores and other responsibilities, fun apps, learning apps … there are even apps to help your kids sleep, with calming music! But it’s still an app. The problem with screens is that the artificial light tricks your brain into thinking it is still daytime. Dr. Kansagra encourages kids and parents alike to disconnect from technology at least an hour before bed to get the best night’s sleep.
The core of good sleep is having good sleep hygiene (the behaviors or things in your environment that can hurt or help your sleep). You should have a nighttime routine, including three or four calming activities before bed that you do the exact same way every night before sleep. Having a good bedtime routine is important for kids and adults. Avoid bright lights and screens at nighttime, at least one hour before bed. However, bright lights in the morning are helpful to wake you up.
So where can you get more info on this study and on improving your sleep health? Check out the data from this study on Mattress Firm’s website.