Saturday, January 03, 2009

Improving the quality and quantity of our sleep

As I mentioned yesterday, I recently read an article by Ginny Graves at MSNBC about sleep. In her research she gathered a lot of interesting information. For instance, before the invention of the light bulb, the average person slept 10 hours a night. And that begs the question, "How much sleep are we supposed to get?" It's often stated that 8 hours a night is what is best, but these days that seems like an unneeded luxury to most people. This issue is addressed in the article:
"Our society doesn't value sleep," says Phyllis Zee, a professor of neurology at and director of Northwestern University's Sleep Disorders Center. "We see it as a sign of laziness or a waste of time" — so much so that sleeplessness has become something to brag about. Plus, "the culture we've created is geared to keeping us awake," Zee says. Our minds are constantly aroused by stress, caffeine, and even e-mail. "Scans of metabolic activity in the brain show that people who suffer from insomnia have more activity than people without sleep problems when they're trying to get to sleep," Zee says. "When people say, 'I can't turn my brain off at night,' they're actually right."
In the rest of the article, Ginny lays out in detail ten different ways that we can help improve the quantity and quality of our sleep:
1. Free your mind - from anxious thoughts
2. Get physically tired - via aerobic exercise during the day
3. Increase darkness - light suppresses melatonin
4. Cut back on caffeine
5. Limit alcohol
6. Reset your body clock - through the use of light in the morning
7. Take a supplement - of melatonin pills
8. Investigate sleeping pills - for temporary use
9. Adjust your attitude
10. Restrict sleep - temporarily to build up sleepiness
I would encourage you to read the whole thing for more detail on any of these steps.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous1:28 PM

    i don't know about #5. i normally sleep like a baby after a nice nightcap.