Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sleep Deprivation, part 2

Last month, I wrote a post about sleep, or rather, the lack thereof. Yesterday, I was excited to see my new issue of Whole Living in the mail, as always, but even more excited to see an article about sleep! I can't actually find the article on their web site, but they do have a whole area of the site devoted to sleep, and I highly recommend you check it out. 

The article is called To Sleep, Perchance to Gleam, and it talks about a lot of the same issues that I raised in my post. According to the Whole Living article, 

"A recent review of studies in the European Heart Journal found that regularly skimping on a good night's rest ups the odds of developing or dying from heart disease by 48 percent and stroke by 15 percent."
That is pretty incredible. 48 percent?! I wanted to single this out, as opposed to the parts about the hormones, weight gain, etc. that I already explored, because heart disease & stroke may motivate people even more than the idea that their lack of sleep is causing them to gain weight or causing a little mental slowness.

The article also pointed out that anxiety is one of the top reasons we're losing sleep, once we actually get to bed. I've been talking about my attempt to lessen anxiety around bed time via constructive worrying; and it has helped tremendously. Whole Living also had some great tips for sleeping better. They do mention sleep aids, but of the alternative medicine variety: 

"Taking a B-vitamin supplement early in the day may make it easier to get to sleep, says [Dr. Michael] Breus, noting finds published in the Alternative Medicine Review. In one small study, taking niacinamide (B3) resulted in a significant increase in REM (the dream stage of sleep). "But the natural remedy with the most data is valerian," he says. "It's an anti-anxiety agent shown to help people fall--and stay--asleep.""
I did a little research on valerian, and the best place to start was the Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS). ODS has a great overview of the clinical studies done, as well as their findings & flaws. While the data is not overwhelmingly conclusive, I would definitely give valerian a shot, just to see if it helps.  

The best tip I found in the Whole Living article was the first - "Find Your Ideal Bedtime." The first step is to try giving yourself 7.5 hours of sleep before your alarm will go off; so, if you have to get up at 7:30, they recommend getting in bed & turning the lights out just before midnight (to give yourself time to go to sleep). If you wake up just before your alarm, you've found a good bed time. If not, they suggest slowly making your bed time earlier until you find the right time for you to feel rested in the morning. Once you've found your ideal bed time, you should try to go to bed then as much as possible. 

With that in mind, how many of you adhere to a strict bed time? I get tired pretty early on the week days myself, but I think we all have those times where we have an event or we're just restless and sleep doesn't come as often as it should. I try to keep in mind the consequences if it happens too often and learn to say no to plans that would keep me up too late.


  1. I used to get up at 6am every day for work. I would tell myself I had to go to bed at 10pm but really as long as I was in bed before 11pm it was ok. I was aiming for about 7 hours of sleep. I know myself well and If I need to be in bed at a specific time I usually end up actually getting to bed like 45 mins later. For some reason if I try and trick myself it seems to work out well? Weird.

  2. Yeah, sometimes I have to trick myself, too. Funny how that works. Lately I've just been trying to get up on time - there's no way "Finding my bedtime" will work for me until I get the illness/fatigue sorted out. Did 7 hours of sleep work well for you?

  3. I seem to do fine with 7 hours of sleep. Although, I always feel tired no matter how much sleep I get. So then I drink a lot of caffeine which masks the sleepiness temporarily.

  4. I think people have this strange idea that they should feel well rested and hyper all the time. It's just not sustainable and obtainable. :-P

  5. I think I put a lot of pressure on myself to be productive all the time, which results in me being tired all the time, which may or may not contribute to these last few months of basically non-stop illness, which has forced me to just sit around a lot. Which, in turn, makes me angry and resentful towards my body.