Sleep Smarter! A Book Review

I know firsthand how crucial adequate sleep is to my mental health and mood (just ask my wife, haha!) Shawn Stevenson provides some great insights about sleep in his book, Sleep Smarter. I’ll be sharing some of what I learned with you today.

“The importance of sleep is overlooked and underrated.”

I’ve written previously about how we live in a world that encourages speed, productivity, busy-ness, and constant engagement. This lifestyle shift has resulted in higher rates of burnout, anxiety, and a variety of other mental health issues. But what’s the solution?

Rest!

Over the last few decades, the average adult sleep time has dropped from 9 hours nightly to 7 hours nightly. That’s alarming, given the wealth of research that links sleep deprivation to shorter lifespans… So those people who claim, “I’ll sleep when I die” are on the right track to reaching their goals.

While culture tells us that working more will make us more productive, research says that sleep deprivation actually makes us less productive and impairs our ability to focus. This is due to the fact that sleep allows the brain to produce the glucose (energy) necessary for problem-solving and reasoning.

Other consequences of sleep deprivation include weight gain, aging, reduced sex drive, anxiety, irritability, and depression.

So how can we Sleep Smarter?

  • Sleep in a cool, dark place.
    • Light can impact sleep because it can be absorbed through the skin.
      • Our bodies produce melatonin when it’s dark to help us sleep.
        • Avoid using electronics in the evening, as it impacts your body’s melatonin production.
        • Getting lots of light during the daytime hours can also help your body to regulate the melatonin production.
  • Keep your bedtime around the same 30-min window daily.
    • This helps regulate your circadian rhythms.
  • For the best sleep, go to bed earlier and rise earlier.
    • You get your most restorative sleep between the hours of 10 PM and 2 AM.
      • Your melatonin and human growth hormone levels are highest during this stage of sleep
  • Set a caffeine curfew of no later than 4 PM.
    • Caffeine takes a while to metabolize. Stopping caffeine by mid-afternoon gives your body time to filter out the caffeine before bed time.
  • Regular exercise has been shown to produce better sleep.
  • Meditation is a great bedtime practice.
  • Keep technology and work out of the bedroom.
    • You don’t want your brain to associate your bed with work and productivity.

Conclusion

To have the best quality of life, we have to be vigilant in the upkeep of our bodies, minds, and relationships. Sleep is crucial to all three of those areas. You can find this book here.

What are your thoughts? Share with me in the comments!

Thanks for reading!

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