I am with my wife Laurice, we are in our bedroom and not surprisingly because we want to talk about the importance of getting a good night’s sleep.

I think we can talk about a lot of epidemics in this country, like heart disease and obesity among a number of them. Sleep has really become one of the newer epidemics. It is estimated that 50-70 million people have some type of a sleep disorder. They may have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep and they may have excessive sleepiness during the day or they may find they are doing strange things in bed at night, like kicking their legs a lot or developing restless leg syndrome.

When you look at the science of sleep and you look at what poor sleep does to our risk of chronic diseases, you really want to do what you can, to get a good night’s rest. Not getting enough sleep increases your risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity and things like anxiety, depression and excessive alcohol use.

This has become a 30-40 billion dollar a year industry in this country and all kinds of gadgets are coming on to the market – different sprays you can spray on your pillow, sound machines you can put by your bed and different apps you can use. You can experiment and see what works best for you.

We started our journey to getting better sleep with looking at all the different recommendations out there and trying to figure out what worked best for us.  We call this our Sleep Well Strategy.  Laurice and I had to team up on this because we both share this space.

Some of our general rules include –

  • Trying to get 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night.
  • Going to bed and waking up around the same time each day.
  • Accessing and adjusting how we are feeling constantly as we continue to adjust our routines and environment.

The environment in which you sleep is another big part of it. We make sure that our room is dark.  The other thing is the temperature, that can be really important. Make sure your room is cool enough. For us, it is around 67 to 68 degrees.  Now, if you suffer from night sweats, you may want to read this article on Self.com, where I explain the causes of Night Sweats and what to do about them.

A Cluttered Bedroom Can Be A Big Issue

Laurice explains, “One of the things we both feel strongly about is that we don’t like a lot of clutter.” “If the room feels chaotic when we walk in and there is stuff all over the place, than that is not a settling feeling for either one of us.

Adam continues. You know, we have a pre-bed routine.  I know if I watch some action-packed movie right before bed, that gets my adrenaline going and I am going to have more difficulty falling asleep.  Sometimes I will practice mindfulness before going to bed and I find that to be helpful. The other thing is that I still wake up occasionally in the middle of the night and we actually have some night lights set up so I don’t have to turn a bright light on if I want to go use the restroom. That bright light can tell the brain, “Oh maybe the sun is up and it is time to wake up.” These are simple things that we can do to keep the environment in our bedroom more conducive to sleep.

One of the things I get asked about is taking a nap. If you are able to take a nap and have the time, that can be very effective and a nice way to rejuvenate, no longer than 20-30 minutes at the most because you then get into deeper levels of sleep and you will wake up and feel much more groggy.

It’s all about finding the way to live your best life. You want to be energized and you want to do the things throughout the day to stay focused. If you are at work you want to be productive and sleep is such a key component to this. Developing your right sleep hygiene – sleep routine – sleep strategy and find what works best for you.

Written by Dr. Adam Perlman

I am the Co-Founder of Synchronicity. Founder and Director of the Leadership Program in Integrative Healthcare at Duke University.

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