Reducing stress to get a good night’s sleep
Every year there are 40 million people in the U.S. who suffer from chronic sleep disorders, and another 20 million who suffer from occasional sleep issues.
Arianna Huffington is currently crisscrossing the country promoting her new book The Sleep Revolution. Sleeping well is her new passion and cause. She calls herself a “sleep evangelist” and here’s why. In 2007 she collapsed in her office from exhaustion. She hit her head on the corner of her desk and broke a cheekbone. After a myriad of tests her doctors told her the diagnosis was ‘burnout’. She needed to change her 24/7 lifestyle. Huffington has raised two daughters, written best-selling books and is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post.
What happens when we are sleep deprived?
- Accidents, for one thing. The 1979 nuclear accident at Three Mile Island, the Exxon Valdez oil spill and the 1986 nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl all involved sleep deprivation as a factor. That’s not to mention recent train derailments, car accidents (100,000 every year) and job related mishaps.
- Lack of sleep makes you foggy, forgetful and stupid. Sleep is important to thinking and learning. Our cognitive processes are diminished by lack of sleep so decision- making is impaired. When we are asleep at night our brain ‘sets’ our memories, so what we learned or experienced during the day will be lost if we don’t get enough sleep.
- There are many health issues related to lack of sleep, including heart disease, heart failure, high blood pressure, stroke and diabetes, just to name a few.
- People who suffer from sleep disorders begin to show symptoms of depression or anxiety.
- Sleep deprivation ages your skin.
- Sleep deprivation can cause weight gain because hunger and appetite increase, particularly cravings for high sugar and fat foods.
Here is how Arianna Huffington gets herself to sleep:
- She splurges on organic cotton sheets and bed linens.
- She does not allow any electronic gadgets to enter her bedroom.
- She makes a nightly list of things she is grateful for, dims the lights, and takes a warm bath in Epsom salts by candlelight.
- She buys soft comfortable nightgowns – she used to be too tired to remove her daytime clothes and would sleep in them!
- She meditates if she has trouble falling asleep.
- She always gets 8 hours of sleep a night, not 4 one night and 10 the next.
Remedies to try for sleep deprivation:
ASE just posted an article about 4– 7-8 Breathing Technique. I’ve been using it before I go to sleep and I love it!
Try avoiding caffeine, alcohol and sugar and see if that makes a difference.
Practicing guided or mindfulness meditation helps many people fall asleep because they relax the brain’s arousal systems. The health benefits of meditation have been proven many times in countless studies. Now, studies are showing that it is a good sleep aid for many people. See an early ASE article on meditation, and check out these very popular meditation apps:
Try natural sleep aids like melatonin, magnesium and others.
One reason Ms. Huffington is so passionate about this topic is that she views sleep as a performance-enhancer and attitude-improver. She feels the world would be a better place if everyone got enough sleep. People brag about how little sleep they got the night before because they were working late. She would like sleep de-stigmatized. People who are good sleepers actually work harder and more productively than those who are sleep deprived.
What are your favorite tricks to get to sleep on one of those restless evenings? Let us know in the comments below.
Make sure you share this with your friends – they’ll appreciate your thoughtfulness on one of those nights when sleep is evasive.
Bedding is an important element to a good night’s sleep. ASE helps to clear up the difference in sheets.
*This article has been updated in January 2020.