How can we get more sleep and feel happier?
I am one of those people who is extremely grumpy, irritable, and even angry when I do not get a good night’s sleep. For me, this means falling asleep by 10:00 pm and getting a minimum of seven uninterrupted hours of sleep. As a working Mom of two toddlers, I do not always get this and I will usually pay for it when I don’t. The time after my daughters go to sleep is the only “quiet” time in the house and also a time for my husband and I to connect.
After a sleepless night, you may be more irritable, short-tempered, and vulnerable to stress. Once you sleep well, your mood often returns to normal. Studies have shown that even partial sleep deprivation has a significant effect on mood. University of Pennsylvania researchers found that subjects who were limited to only 4.5 hours of sleep a night for one week reported feeling more stressed, angry, sad, and mentally exhausted. When the subjects resumed normal sleep, they reported a dramatic improvement in mood.
Why is it so difficult for most of us to get in bed at an early time each night, knowing that this is what is best for us?
One of the main reasons is technology and our personal devices. The Sleep Health Foundation reports that the bright light from mobile phones, tablets, computers, and televisions blocks the release of the sleep hormone, melatonin, after only 1.5 hours of using technology in the evening. Melatonin is the hormone that signals the brain that it is time to sleep. The absorption of bright light through the eyes delays the release of melatonin, making it more difficult for people to fall asleep.
Here are some ideas on how to decrease our device usage before bed:
- Listen to a podcast instead of watching TV or videos
- Use an internet blocker app
- Track your personal usage time with an auditing app
- Put your cell phone out of reach (Ex. In the kitchen at 9:30 pm daily)
- Put a sticky note reminder on your bathroom mirror that reads “Device Free By 9:30”
I wanted to share this amazing article on Great Sleep Habits from The Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School.
Have any great sleep suggestions? Please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org