Living with a newborn in the house, I have been thinking about sleep a lot lately! I follow Dr. Peter Attia, https://peterattiamd.com/ a doctor who focuses on longevity and health. In his toolkit for longevity, https://peterattiamd.com/the-5-tactics-in-the-longevity-toolkit/, sleep is up there with nutrition and exercise!
So I went to the library to get a book he suggested: Matthew Walker’s Why We Sleep. Dr. Walker (whom you can hear in this podcast too https://peterattiamd.com/matthewwalker1/) gives a deep dive into what good sleep is and why it is essential for good health, as well as explaining all sorts of interesting sleep mysteries: why my grandchild won’t sleep through the night: why my elderly friend has insomnia: and whether sleeping pills are really as benign as they are promoted to be (they are not!).
The easiest take aways from his book are the NIH tips (Appendix pages 341-342) for a healthy sleep:
- Stick to the same sleep schedule, every day of the week & weekend. Set an alarm for bedtime! Create a very stable sleep pattern of eight (8) hours a night.
- Exercise every day but no later than two (2) hours before bedtime.
- Avoid caffeine (coffee, colas, teas, & chocolate), which can take as long as eight hours to wear off, and, of course, nicotine.
- Avoid alcoholic drinks before bed.
- Avoid large meals & drinks late at night.
- Avoid medicines that delay or disrupt your sleep (check with your doctor or pharmacist about these).
- Don’t take naps after 3 p.m. (but do take a nap earlier/ page 70 on biphasic sleep).
- Relax before bed (read or listen to music in a low lit room).
- Take a hot bath before bed.
- Dark bedroom, cool bedroom, gadget-free bedroom (avoid blue lights from TVs, computers, iPads, Kindle, etc.).
- Natural sunlight exposure, thirty minutes every day.
- Don’t lie in bed awake getting anxious about not sleeping; get up and do some relaxing activity until you feel sleepy.
Sleep is a health topic that is never dealt with in the media, in spite of sleep deprivation being responsible for more car crashes than alcohol and drugs combined! So we are forced, once again, to resist the ideas and habits of the dominant culture and to create for ourselves and our families healthier routines of sleeping, eating, and living.
Sleep well and deeply!