Sleep is a five-letter word that you develop a push-and-pull relationship with as you age. As a child, you’re forced to go to bed, dragging your favorite tattered blanket across the floor as you and your footed pajamas reluctantly listen to who’s in charge. Your pre-teen and teen years come next, riddled with activities and responsibilities that make sleep look like your nemesis instead of your ally. From demanding extracurriculars to mountains of homework, sleep takes a backseat to the things in your life that bring judgment, bad grades, and empty wallets.
Phones: The Killer of Dreams & Restful Nights
Sleep is a crucial component of your mental and physical health, and yet, too many people do not give it the respect it deserves. You’d never ask your body to complete an obstacle course and then ask it to sleep within seconds of your body crossing the finish line. Yet, this is what you ask of your mind when you slide under your covers and start tapping on your phone.
Did you know that “the blue light emitted by your cell phone screen restrains the production of melatonin, the hormone that controls your sleep-wake cycle (aka circadian rhythm)? This makes it even more difficult to fall asleep and wake up the next day.” You may say, “but I don’t look at my phone when I lay down; I just put it on my bedside table.” Well, unless your phone is on ‘do not disturb’ mode or silent, “the text alerts, game notifications, or email buzzes can interrupt your deep sleep.”
Consider these facts:
- “Sixty-eight percent of teenagers reported that they keep their mobile devices within reach at night.”
- “… access to and use of mobile devices at bedtime were associated with ‘inadequate sleep quality’ and ‘poor sleep quantity,’ as well as ‘excessive sleepiness’ during the day.”
- “… poor sleep leads to a number of negative mental and physical health problems— things like obesity, poor academic achievement, poor cognitive performance, or just daytime sleepiness.”
- “Just over a third (36 percent) of teens look at their phones in the middle of the night to check for ‘something other than the time’ at least once a night.”
It may not be your fast-paced or busy life keeping you from the night of rest your body craves. It may simply be your phone habits and the fact that you ask your mind to absorb and process a mountain of information and then expect it to click over to sleep mode the moment you jump off social media or email.
Consequences of Sleep Deprivation
Sleep is not something you can ignore without consequences. KidsHealth.org points out the following:
- “Skipping 1 night’s sleep makes a person cranky and clumsy.”
- “After missing 2 nights of sleep, a person will have problems thinking and doing things; his or her brain and body can’t do their normal tasks nearly as well.”
- “After 5 nights without sleep, a person will hallucinate.”
- “Eventually, it becomes impossible for the brain to give its directions to the rest of the body without sleep.”
Staying up late to study for a test results in your mind not remembering everything. Trading hours of sleep for a night of binge-watching television results in your mind not functioning during the day. Bags under your eyes try to tell you you’re missing too much sleep, but there’s makeup for those, right? Your sluggishness during the day pleads with you to rest, but you’re too busy, right? Your body and mind tell you when they’re tired, and it’s time to start listening and responding.
Tips to Get More Sleep
Your body and your brain need sleep to function at their best. To obtain sleep, Healthline offers the following noteworthy advice:
- Lower the temperature: “Your body temperature changes as you fall asleep. Your body cools down when you lie down and warms up when you get up. If your room is too warm, you might have a hard time falling asleep.”
- Use the 4-7-8 breathing method:
- “First place the tip of your tongue behind your upper front teeth.”
- “Exhale completely through your mouth and make a ‘whoosh’ sound.”
- “Close your mouth, and inhale through your nose while mentally counting to 4.”
- “Hold your breath, and mentally count to 7.”
- “Open your mouth and exhale completely, making a ‘whoosh’ sound and mentally counting to 8.”
- “Repeat this cycle at least three more times.”
- Get on a schedule: “Your body has its own regulatory system called the circadian rhythm. This internal clock cues your body to feel alert during the day but sleepy at night. Waking up and going to bed at the same times each day can help your internal clock keep a regular schedule.”
- Avoid looking at your clock: “It’s normal to wake up in the middle of the night. However, the inability to fall back asleep can ruin a good night’s rest. People who wake up in the middle of the night often tend to watch the clock and obsess about the fact that they can’t fall back asleep. Clock-watching is common among people with insomnia. This behavior may cause anxiety and sleeplessness.”
- Avoid naps during the day
- Try sleep-enhancing supplements: “Certain supplements can help you fall asleep faster.”
- Inositol is from Truehope, the home of the most studied micronutrient in the world. Inositol can be used as a natural sleep aid, calming the mind and body when you’re having trouble falling asleep. One look at the reviews for Inositol, and you’ll see teens and adults rave about Inositol’s fast-working results.
Sleep So You Fully Live
As if functioning below your best isn’t reason enough to give sleep the respect it deserves, the Sleep Foundation shares that “drowsy driving is responsible for more than 6,000 fatal car crashes every year in the United States,” and “people with severe insomnia are seven times more likely to have work-related accidents than good sleepers.”
Sleep isn’t just about ‘beauty rest’ and thinking clearly to do well on a test; sleep can literally be the difference between life and death. Stop treating sleep like a chore, and start treating it like one of the most significant determiners of your day. You may live by the common phrase “I’ll sleep when I’m dead,” but if you truly understand the importance of sleep, you’ll start saying, “I need to sleep, so I fully live.”
Author: Evelyn Lindell
Certified Health & Wellness Coach