Health

Sleep Revolution – Hacking Your Way to a Rested and Recharged Life

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Sleep Revolution is an eye-opening book with plenty of helpful insights for any reader, even experienced sleep medicine specialists will find something new or insightful that they can share with patients or trainees.

Sleep deprivation has significant ramifications on health, job performance and happiness – Huffington details her own wake-up call following a string of 18-hour workdays that led her down an exhausting path that eventually culminated in burnout and ultimate collapse.

1. Know Your Circadian Clock

Sleep is vital to our overall wellbeing; it protects both physical and mental wellbeing while improving productivity and happiness. Unfortunately, many Americans do not get enough rest each night; over 30% get less than seven hours. Sleep deprivation has even become an accepted badge of status among some industries – where people view lack of rest as being cool and successful.

Contrary to popular belief, we all possess internal clocks that dictate when it is time for sleep or wakeup – these circadian rhythms determine our sleeping schedule and wake-up schedule and can have profound impacts on mood, eating habits, energy levels and hormone production. When your circadian rhythm gets out of sync it may result in sleep deprivation, depression and obesity – this may all contribute to poor health outcomes as a whole.

Your circadian rhythm is determined by a network of neurons in your hypothalamus and can be affected by various stimuli like light, exercise, food or work schedules. Your circadian rhythm also determines how you perform in different situations as well as whether or not you’re an early bird or night owl.

Keep your circadian rhythm on track by maintaining a regular sleep and wake schedule. Avoid caffeine and stimulants in the evening, limit screen time before bed, and limit screen time right before sleep for optimal restorative effects. It may also be worthwhile experimenting with sleeping without an alarm clock for several nights to see how that affects you.

Arianna Huffington, founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post, has written a new book called Sleep Revolution: Hacking Your Way to a Rested and Recharged Life to combat sleep deprivation. It looks at this crisis from various cultural, historical, and scientific angles and provides actionable tips for better rest. Published earlier this year and currently sitting atop New York Times Bestseller lists, Arianna is touring nationally to promote her book and speak about sleep deprivation; with this aim in mind; inspiring people to treat sleep as performance enhancer instead of luxury!

2. Understand Your Sleep Architecture

As you transition towards sleep, billions of brain cells begin sending signals back and forth between themselves. An EEG (electroencephalogram) tracing of your awake brain reveals irregular signals; but as soon as you go deeper into sleep these brain-wave patterns become more organized and reflect a state of calm relaxation; this stage is known as non-rapid eye movement 1 or NREM 1.

As the initial stage of NREM sleep begins to dissolve, your mind transitions into NREM 2. Here, your brain waves slowly decrease further, increasing your susceptibility to being disturbed during the night if waking occurs; however, scientists believe that this period of slower-than-usual brain activity may help with consolidating memories into long-term storage.

NREM 2 leads gradually into rapid-eye movement sleep (or REM). At this stage of restful restful slumber, your body becomes most active – when this stage arrives you dream. Scientists believe REM plays a critical role in mental wellbeing by helping individuals solve problems and make important decisions.

Unfortunately, many people don’t get enough REM and NREM sleep. Furthermore, as we age our sleeping architecture starts to change – for instance after age 65 most people spend less time in slow-wave deep sleep and more time in NREM due to natural changes within their bodies as well as external factors like school or work obligations.

Assuming you already have a sleep architecture that meets your needs, taking steps to enhance it should not be an overwhelming task. Achieve success includes setting and sticking to a regular bedtime each night can significantly extend the duration and quality of sleep; being aware of light habits such as exercising can improve it further. Timing also has an enormous influence over this factor – when and how often you go to sleep and wake up can impact both NREM and REM sleep durations significantly.

3. Get Your Sleep Hygiene Right

Sleep quality is equally as crucial to its duration, affecting everything from cognitive dysfunction and weight gain to heart disease and even stroke or heart attack. A poor quality of rest could put your health in jeopardy.

Short-term sleep loss may not have as dramatic an effect, but eventually it can wreak havoc and diminish performance. Luckily, there are simple strategies you can employ to increase the quality of your restful slumber – known as “sleep hygiene” and consisting of good habits throughout the day and prior to sleeping – in order to feel more refreshed in the morning and at bedtime.

Sleep hygiene can help ensure that you’re getting enough restful zzz’s, making a better night’s rest an automatic part of daily routine. Sleep hygiene practices help make sleeping better an automatic part of daily routine, so as long as these healthy practices become part of your routine it should become part of daily life too!

Sticking to a regular sleep schedule, using your bedroom solely for sleeping and sex (rather than watching television shows or having late-night chats), creating a relaxing sleeping environment, and consuming caffeine, nicotine or alcohol before bed are all effective tools in improving your quality of restful slumber.

Additionally, it’s essential that you eat a well-balanced diet and exercise on a regular basis; both will improve the overall quality of your sleep by decreasing indigestion or stress-induced disturbances in sleep patterns. Napping should also be limited to no longer than 20 minutes as overlong naps may disrupt your schedule and make you feel less rested upon awakening. Overall, practicing good sleep hygiene takes some effort but will pay dividends in terms of long-term health and wellbeing benefits.

4. Don’t Go to Bed Too Early

Sleep is essential for optimal health, performance and relationships – yet many struggle to get enough of it due to busy schedules or poor sleeping environments. To improve your sleep hygiene and make sure that you get enough rest each night there are a few steps you can take.

1. Set and stick to a regular bedtime every night. One effective strategy to improve your sleep hygiene is establishing and sticking to a set bedtime every day, even on weekends or vacations, even on holidays and weekends. This will allow your body to adapt to its new schedule and ensure you’re getting sufficient rest every night. It may be wiser not to use electronic devices before sleeping like televisions and phones which keep the brain active, making it harder for some people to fall asleep quickly; try engaging in relaxing activities like reading (ideally an old-fashioned paper book!) or journaling which will allow both mind and body to relax into restful slumber!

2. Start Your Day Early Waking up early can seem intimidating, but it actually brings many advantages. By rising early you’ll have more time and energy available for focusing on goals and priorities for the day; furthermore it may also help prolong wakefulness throughout your day!

3. Work More Efficiently and Effectively. Being tired in the workplace can be very counterproductive and cause great strain. Studies have revealed that when fatigued, one’s ability to focus, think critically and solve complex problems decreases dramatically – improving sleep habits may provide you with enough energy to deal with such challenges successfully.

At a time when winning is everything, professional athletes are among the biggest proponents for sleep. Arianna highlights that sleep’s importance has been rediscovery everywhere from professional sports arenas and college campuses to hotels and workplaces around the globe. Some of the richest people like Jeff Bezos of Amazon even prioritize sleep as an integral component to their success.