Updated: Apr 12
Slumber Yard Team
Did you know there’s a national holiday that celebrates everyone’s favorite activity: sleeping? We didn’t either until we talked to the people at the National Sleep Foundation (NSF). This global organization works to promote good health and well-being through sleep education and advocacy.
When you think about it, it makes perfect sense. Sleeping is one of the most important things we do to maintain good health. Lately, however, many of us have been struggling to get enough high-quality sleep time due to pandemic anxieties and the other challenges of daily life in 2021.
Sleep Awareness Week begins the same day as daylight savings time — Sunday, March 14 — and runs through to March 20. Launched in 1998, the week gives us a time each year to take stock of our sleeping habits and develop new ones. Developing new sleep habits takes patience and effort, but there has never been a better time to make a fresh start. Now, as we pull out of our pandemic-related quarantines, it’s a great time to review sleeping habits and make the leap to a new normal.
We will discuss the following topics.
What Has COVID-19 Meant For Our Sleep?
What Does A Good Night’s Sleep Mean: A Guide From A to Zzzzz
How To Sleep Better After 1 Week
Here’s The Bottom Line
What Has COVID-19 Meant For Our Sleep? You may feel like you haven’t been sleeping well lately, and statistics say you’re not alone. Researchers have even coined a name for it: “coronasomnia.” That’s the wide-spread increase in sleepless nights and disturbed slumber that has spread over every age group during the past year. Coronasomnia can have multiple causes: your routine has changed, perhaps, and you’ve been stuck in your home or apartment with little outside stimuli. Your exercise routine has been curtailed. You’re spending twice as much time on your devices, which emit blue light to unbalance you and make it hard to sleep. Or maybe you’ve lost your sense of the boundaries between work and life because — guess what? — They both happen in the same place and overlapping times now. All that disruption leaves you wide-awake at night, with thoughts and worries swirling around in your head when you should be sawing wood. And that’s not good. It impacts your ability to do your job, mind your children, and live your life. It messes with your mental health and leaves you at risk for depression, memory loss, even heart disease and cancer. But now, with a vaccine available and commerce reopening slowly but surely, it’s a great time to consider your sleep habits — and improve them if needed. This not only ensures that you stay healthy but will help you negotiate any stress that comes from transitioning to a new normal, post-pandemic.
What Does A Good Night’s Sleep Mean: A Guide From A to Zzzzz So what does it mean to sleep well? Are you getting a good night’s sleep when you have to get up three or four times to use the bathroom? What about those nights you stay up until 2 a.m. to catch the end of the Late Late Show? Your sleep habits are unique to you, and only you can say for sure when you feel like you’ve slept well. Let’s start by looking at some of the benefits you’re experiencing if you’re getting adequate rest each night. Sleep Deprivation Sleep deprivation can happen to anyone but is most commonly seen in those under stress — from the president of the U.S. down to the small business owner wondering how she’s going to pay her employees this week or the high schooler who has two tests in one day. Of course, everyone has a sleepless night occasionally, and there are few consequences other than walking through the next day in a fog. But if you’re experiencing sleep deprivation over a period of time, the are a number of outcomes you may be facing, including:
Increased chances of having an accident of any kind
Risk of heart disease and diabetes
Any of these issues can have life-altering consequences. Studies show, for example, that people who sleep fewer than seven hours in 24 hours have higher odds of causing a car crash. If they sleep less than four hours, the odds increase even further, and it’s estimated that 16% of the fatal crashes in the U.S. are caused by driver drowsiness. The high schooler with the heavy homework load will be less likely to ace those tests if he hasn’t gotten significant sleep. An overtired youth won’t remember as much as he would otherwise and won’t be able to pay attention to the teacher in the classroom. He’ll be distracted and make careless errors on those tests. For the business owner or government official, sleep deprivation may cause significant issues for them both on the job and off. Their cognition skills, mathematical capacity, and decision-making abilities are impaired at the time when they need them most.
Why We Need To Sleep More So what happens when you DO get enough sleep? The most obvious result is that you just feel better because your body and mind have had some downtime to recharge. You will probably be in a better mood and be more productive at whatever tasks you need to tackle.
Other benefits? For one, not only does getting enough sleep boosts your immune system, but it makes it easier for your body to metabolize vaccines. If you’re a gym rat (and even more so if you’re not), a good night’s sleep will help improve your gym routine, enhancing muscle recovery, hand-eye coordination, and your ability to tough out the hard physical stuff. But that’s not all. Take our small business owner. Let’s say that despite her worries, she gets enough sleep. In the morning, she avoids a serious accident by swerving quickly when a biker darts into her path. She gets to work and greets her staff with a smile and heads for the spreadsheets. There she finds an error that she missed yesterday and — voila! There’s the missing payroll. Sleeping more also helps in the long haul. Lack of sleep causes your body to increase the production of a hormone called ghrelin, whose primary goal is to stimulate your appetite. In the long term, that leads to obesity, which can cause heart problems and more. Sleep enough, and you will know how much to eat and when to stop — thus short-circuiting long-term and potentially serious health concerns. Immune System Boost Your immune system would, if it could, thank you for getting enough sleep. When you are asleep, it releases proteins called cytokines. These proteins are essential in helping you fight infection — including COVID-19 — and inflammation. When your sleep habits are poor, the immune system cannot produce enough of the cytokines. So when you come down with a cold or fever, it knocks you off your feet and leaves you vulnerable to broader infections. How To Sleep Better After 1 Week It’s never easy to change habits, but when the stakes are this high, it’s worth making an effort. We’ve made it a little easier for you by breaking down some behaviors that will help you to improve your sleep patterns with as little disruption as possible. Tackle one task a day, and you’ll see results in as little as a week — but if you need to take longer, that’s okay too. Just keep moving in the right direction at a pace that’s comfortable for you. To download our calendar, click here
Here’s The Bottom Line It may seem odd at first to celebrate something as ordinary as sleep. But when you think about the benefits of a good night’s rest, National Sleep Awareness Week makes perfect sense. What’s the best way to celebrate? Why not take that week and adapt some of our suggestions so that your nighttime is genuinely a time to refresh yourself, body and mind so that you can face the new day with energy and a great attitude. No matter how small, every change you make is a step toward better sleeping habits and better health. https://myslumberyard.com/blog/celebrating-sleep-awareness-in-2021/