Did you you know that in countries that still utilize daylight savings time, heart attacks across the population increase by 25% the day after we lost one hour sleep in the springtime. The same pattern can be observed for car crashes, suicide rates and a bunch of other nasty stuff. Luckily, we win it back in the fall when we get an extra hour of sleep. Imagine that just one hour of sleep can have such a statistical significance in terms of how people feel and behave.
Sleep researching is advancing at an unprecedented speed and the conclusion after every study, no matter the hypotheses they are testing is almost unanimously that sleep is super important for every part of your body. It is important for learning and memory retention, it is important for focus and irritability, and it is important to fight off diseases now, and more scarily also later. Because those ‘later-diseases’ they are usually much worse, sometimes fatal. Research is telling us that the shorter your sleep, the shorter your life. Short sleep predicts all-cause mortality.
And despite this, with all the research pointing in one direction in terms of the importance of sleep, research on how much we actually sleep is moving in the complete opposite direction. Just in the last five years, people are sleeping less. Presumably because of stress and the wide adoption of social media, NetFlix and many other distractors. We suspect that it is not because people are reading more books.
What concrete steps can you take to sleep more and sleep better?
- Go to bed at the same time, wake up at the same time, no matter if it is the weekend or a weekday, and if you need to wake up at 07.00 that means you should aim for being asleep at 23.00
- Do not drink caffeine after dinner, and preferably don’t drink alcohol for dinner, we fully realize though that having a glass of wine for dinner is quite nice
- Ensure you keep your bedroom as cool as possible. Your body needs to drop its temperature by a bit more than 0.5 degrees celsius before falling asleep and staying asleep, so keeping cool is immensely important. The ideal temperature for most people is around 18 degrees celsius but since this is not always achievable you need to take the steps you can to keep cool.
- Ensure you have duvets for at least two seasons, winter and summer, so you don’t need to use your winter duvet all year long
- Get premium quality bed linens that breath well
- If you have a TV in your bedroom, just get rid of it. It is that simple. Put it in a different location.
- If you have an iPhone – set up Night Shift under your Display and Brightness setting. This will dim your phone to a yellower light designed to make you sleepier, do this at least from one hour before you should sleep
- If you have an iPhone – set up Downtime under your Screen Time settings. You can set it up so your phone gives you limited access to Apps starting from one hour before you should sleep. Commit to never opening social media apps from one hour before your official sleeping time.
- Set up a charging station for your phone somewhere away from your bed, that way you can use it as an alarm clock if you wish. Research actually shows that you need to have your phone outside the bedroom to actually enjoy the full benefits but this is definitely a good start.
That’s it. You don’t need to to do all at once. Start with something and make it a natural part of your sleeping routine, move on to sleeping mastery, live a longer life.