The Today Show had a sleep expert on, Dr. Carol Ash, and she gave so many good tips that I wanted to talk about it! I’ve been having a hard time getting to sleep at night, partially because I’ve been eating junk before bed and it’s keeping me up, but also because I’m watching TV to fall asleep. I know a lot of you are having sleep issues in lockdown too. Dr. Ash gave so many helpful, simple things you can do to get better sleep and to fall back asleep if you wake up in the middle of the night. First of all, she said that even one night of poor sleep can lead to increased anxiety and that lack of sleep is tied to increased risk of heart disease. The good thing is that you can take measures to remedy this. Here’s some of what she said and the video is below:
The risks of getting less sleep
Less than five hours of sleep your risk for cardiac disease doubles. Just one sleepless night can trigger a 30% rise in anxiety.
Why sleep is critical
What happens when you sleep at night your brain is rewiring and forming new connections between neurons that are critical for thought and behavior and it’s clearing toxins so it’s helping you be more resilient in the day and helping with learning and memory so we know that sleep is critical.
How to set up the ideal conditions for sleep
A simple thing that you can do is make sure that you keep the room the right temperature. We are designed to sleep in cooler environments because it is cooler at night. 65 to 72 degrees is perfect range. The exact temperature is unique to you but keep the room cool.
Keep the room dark. You want to get room darkening shades or use an eye mask. It will keep you sleeping at night.
Taking a hot shower [before bed] warms you up and relaxes you. The temperature will drop helping you transition to sleep.
What to do if you wake up in the middle of the night
I tell folks to get a journal, write down the thoughts at night to deal with them during the daytime. If after 30 minutes you are still struggling, try a relaxation technique starting with the toes.
I go to bed at 9pm (although I usually don’t fall asleep until 9:30/10), wake up around 4:30 am and take a nap every day for at half an hour at around 1-2. I wish Dr. Ash would have mentioned the benefits of naps but she didn’t have much time. Plus she’s trying to get people to sleep more at night and I understand that naps aren’t always practical. I’ve noticed that I do sleep better if I take a shower before bed, but it didn’t occur to me to make this part of my routine! I’m so happy I saw this. I’ve also accidentally left the air conditioning at 73 and have woken up in the middle of the night because of it. 71 seems to be the ideal setting and I’m so grateful my new house has air conditioning. Oh and I wanted to recommend YouTube videos for relaxation and sleep. The Honest Guys have a lot of sleep talkdown videos that are so relaxing and helpful. This one is my favorite.
Here’s that interview:
photos credit: Kate Stone Matheson, David Clode and Matthew Henry via Unsplash