This month I’m soliciting advice from my friends and colleagues on how to get 30 more minutes of sleep a night in 2015.
I’m pleased to start with advice from Dr. Meir Kryger, who is a legend in the sleep community and a strong advocate for improving sleep in everyone from infancy through adulthood. He is a full professor here at Yale and I’m pleased to call him a friend and mentor. Here is his advice for improving your sleep:
It is 11:30 pm. You are on your computer responding to emails, paying bills, doing work, Tweeting, posting on Facebook and/or LinkedIn. You realize that you need shut-eye because you have to get up at 6:30 am. You get ready for bed. It is now midnight. Your smartphone is on your nightstand. You are lying in bed. Eyes wide open. You are too wound up to sleep. What happened?
In my book, The IGuide to Sleep, I have have 13 commandment to help people sleep better. Number 3 reads:
“3. Avoid any activity that might cause your brain to be excessively aroused before going to sleep. That means no arguments, no discussions about money or major problems, and no exciting TV or books. Avoid any vigorous activity for 4 to 5 hours before bedtime bed (however, sex seems not to present a problem). Turn smartphone off.”
My advice is to give yourself a TIMEOUT from anything that arouses your brain for the hour before you intend to fall asleep. When your brain is aroused, there is a burst in chemicals that stimulate the brain, and it takes time for the level of these chemicals to drop. Also, the light from electronic screens may suppress the brain’s production of melatonin making it more difficult to sleep. The smartphone on your nightstand may beep or chirp all night as notifications of incoming Tweets and emails (usually spam) in the middle of the night.
If you are reading this in bed, turn off the device!
To me, both personally and professionally this is very germane. Going on a light diet at night is probably a great idea to help you sleep better. There is recent research to suggest that ebook readers which emit light disrupt your sleep. Another recent study showed that elementary school age students with smartphones in their room got less sleep, even when compared with children who had televisions. And you know my feelings on televisions in kids’ rooms.
I have a hard time winding down at night and it always tempting to read a few tweets, update Zite, or check on friends on Facebook. This is compounded by the fact that I use my phone as a back up for my pager for call for the sleep lab. Wendy Sue Swanson and I have both implemented automatic “Do Not Disturb” on our phones from 10pm-7am which has helped a bit.
I’m going to try to put the phone down by 10 PM. Do you think your phone disrupts your sleep or keeps you up? How have you managed this? Join me to make getting 30 more minutes of sleep a reality in 2015.