This week is Sleep Awareness Week, just in time for the Daylight Savings Time change, so we will be giving you tips and info about getting a healthy amount of sleep each day.
Approximately 30% of Americans suffer from some insomnia symptoms, and 10% have issues functioning during the day because of it.
37 million people regularly snore, and many who snore have sleep apnea, where they stop breathing while sleeping. Sleep apnea hurts your daytime activity and is tied to more serious health problems.
Try keeping a sleep diary to monitor how well you sleep. This will be especially helpful if you visit a doctor for the problem. Devices like a Fitbit also keep detailed info on your sleep patterns.
Stop drinking caffeine 4 to 6 hours before bed to fall asleep more easily.
Don’t exercise 3 hours or less before bed. Exercise wakes up your system and can make it hard to fall asleep.
If you have trouble sleeping, wind down before bed with calming activities, like taking a relaxing bath or reading.
Turn off devices at least an hour before you go to sleep. The light from your TV, phone, and tablet screens can mess with the hormones that help you sleep. Machines and apps that recreate sounds like rain can make noise without the light.
Instead of telling you all about how healthy I’m being (although I am cooking and eating better!), I have a confession.
I binge on TV shows. I love TV bingeing.
Actually, I binge on all types of media. I binge on social media (a hazard of the job really), movies, and especially television shows. And when winter hits, especially after getting all new bedding for Christmas like I did this year, all I want to do is curl up in my comfy bed with my dog and Netflix. And this year has been no exception.
I may have (definitely did) watched all 6 seasons of Lost in the last month, and 3 of those were in the last week. (Because I don’t have self-control!) Did I choose a show that encourages this with a million mysteries? Probably. Is it actually crazy that I did this? Yes!
I know I’m not the only one who does this, but I have to say that I feel awful now. Is this partly because I wasn’t completely satisfied with the ending? Probably (sorry Lost lovers!). Is it because I stayed up ‘til 3 a.m. to finish it before work? Totally.
But it’s also because it has been emotionally draining! Investing that much thought for days and hours in a row, especially in characters experiencing some serious drama, has been exhausting. I’ve felt the stress of their lives on top of my shoulders for the last three weeks. I may or may not have spent an unhealthy amount of time crying about people that aren’t real for the last day. That’s completely crazy!
Not to mention there’s a physical toll. Lack of sleep, check. Shoulders aching from stress, check. Back nearly out from sitting still for 8-hour blocks at a time, check. Puffy eyes and stuffed nose, check. An unhealthy level of Doritos in my body, check.
And guess what, this is bad for you! Science says so!
Scientists have compared sitting still for long periods to smoking. In this Huffington Post article, Dr. James Levine is quoted as saying, “Sitting is more dangerous than smoking, kills more people than HIV and is more treacherous than parachuting. We are sitting ourselves to death. “
I sit all day at work, I’m hunched over my phone using my own and my job’s social media 24/7, and then I binge on TV in my bed all winter long. And all this sitting increases my risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, muscular problems, and depression, and it can even lower my energy. (See infographic below.)
And all this hunching over and staring at screens increases the risk for bad posture, back problems, carpal-tunnel, neck strain, and eye problems. The Atlantic recently highlighted a study about the scary amount of time we let our kids stare at screens, much more than the recommended 2 hour a day max, increasing their risk of all of those problems. And at this rate, I personally am spending at least 15 hours of my day with a screen, and that’s actually being generous for my time offline.