How Sleep Deprivation Ages You More Quickly
It usually starts in the mirror when you begin to notice. Your skin doesn’t have that same youthfulness it once had. The lines on your forehead begin to form permanent creases, and the color under your eyes is a little darker — this is the reality of aging.
We grow up and we don’t look quite the same. But all this is only on the outside. Beneath the surface, your body is aging too, and sleep loss can speed up the process. A study done by UCLA researchers discovered that just a single night of insufficient sleep can make older adults’ cells age quicker. This might not seem like a big deal, but it has the potential to bring on a lot of other diseases. Multiple sclerosis, heart disease, and cancer are just a few of them.
Insufficient sleep means that you get less than the 7 hours of nightly sleep that the American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends for adults. People in the study were allowed only four hours of sleep from 3 a.m. to 7 a.m. This type of sleep restriction is actually the most common form of sleep deprivation. Long work hours may prevent us from getting the sleep we need. Or we simply stay up too late at night, failing to make sleep a top priority.
Improving Your Sleep
Sleep hygiene should be a priority at every age. That involves establishing healthy sleep habits such as avoiding late-day caffeine, limiting afternoon naps, skipping out on late-night screen time, and being exposed to natural light patterns.
However, truly disordered sleep requires intervention beyond those basic habits. Some disorders, such as sleep apnea, are readily treatable with devices or surgeries to open the airways. Prescription and over-the-counter sleep aids can be tempting to people tossing and turning all night, but they aren’t a substitute for natural shut-eye because sleeping pills do not induce normal patterns of restorative sleep.
Getting a healthy night’s sleep isn’t just a way to keep the wrinkles away for a little longer — it will actually make you healthier. So, how do you get better sleep and more of it?
Recognize if you are devoting enough time to sleep
You can’t cheat biology, 5-6 hours of time in bed is not enough. Wearables can help but don’t let them make you crazy either (We don’t actually know the relevance of sleep stages/sleep quality and depth scores derived from wearables.) Just make sure you are devoting enough time to sleep.
NOTE: Coaching people on wearable health devices is an aspect of our Integrative Health Coach Certification course.
Assess your Sleep Environment
Cool, dark, & quiet (smartphone on do not disturb-even vibration sounds can disrupt sleep). The bedroom environment is for sleep. Fans are great for white noise and cooling since a room temp in the high 60s is the ideal in your bedroom.
Humans are highly conditioned, so if you start doing other things in bed like ruminating on the day, watching Netflix, working, or scrolling, you will associate the bed with other things than sleep. If you are lying in bed struggling to sleep, get up and do something relaxing in another dimly lit room.
Establish a Wind-down Routine
You can’t go from sixty to zero, a wind-down routine helps to cue your body that it’s time for sleep. But you need more than just a bedtime skin regimen or book reading ritual.
Start dimming the lights within 4 hours of sleep onset. Light during this window of time (particularly blue spectrum light that your backlit electronic screens are enriched in) can push the internal clock later, making it hard to fall asleep at the beginning of the night, and harder to wake up in the morning.
If you are a night owl, you can try amber-colored blue-blocking lenses (blue spectrum lights are everywhere, given LED lighting).
Schedule Your Sleep
If you have to commit to one change for improving your sleep for the New Year: wake up at the same time every day, 7 days per week (if that’s a deal-breaker on weekends, at least make it within an hour).
Waking up at the same time every day stabilizes and strengthens your circadian rhythm so that your body knows not only the time when you are supposed to awaken but also the time you are supposed to fall asleep.
Getting lots of light when awakening and during the daytime is critical for a robust circadian rhythm. If you aren’t getting enough light during the day, you may consider light therapy.
Additionally, this stable wake time ensures you build up enough sleep hunger (homeostatic sleep drive) so your body is ready for bed at your desired bedtime.
A common downward spiral we see is sleeping poorly becomes sleep in to catch more zzzs becomes try to go to bed early the next night (when your body isn’t biologically ready for sleep) becomes get frustrated which become sleep poorly again…over and over and over again.
Getting up at the same time each day to leverage your circadian rhythm and homeostatic sleep drive really gets you “more bang for your buck” during the time you devote to sleep.”
What is Sleep Coaching?
Not getting enough sleep increases the risk of obesity, memory impairment, illness, and even hallucinations or death. Falling asleep is a common problem. But sleep quality is also crucial for optimum brain function and recovery. Fortunately, there are many ways to train your body and mind to fall asleep more quickly and improve your sleep quality.
When you become a Certified Sleep Science Coach, you will learn how to help your clients dramatically enhance their metabolism, memory, creativity, immune function, hormone balance, hunger management, disease prevention, sports performance, accident avoidance, memory, reaction time, good judgement, surgery recovery, happiness and over 100 additional functions and behaviors.
Our programs are open to anyone with a desire to learn and help others. There are no prerequisites.
That’s it for now.