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.