Lack of sleep has been linked to early death, but too much sleep has also been associated with premature death. It’s these confusing proves that make your head spin and question science. So, where’s the healthy option?
British researchers found this narrative when analyzing the sleep patterns of more than 1 million people, across 27 different studies.
The studies were misleading and correlational, and did have a direct cause between sleep and death. And yet, the number of people that suffer from sleep problems is increasing.
And more important to you, it opened up discussions and research on the importance of how you sleep. While getting enough rest is important, there is no definite hours that is perfect for everyone. This is why sleep quality is essential for every aspect of your recovery.
Poor quality sleep can set you up for a variety of health problems ranging from insomnia to depression and even cardiovascular disease. And it’s these health issues that will cause you problems.
While you might be trying to do everything right chances are you’re still missing out on some not-so-obvious behaviors and decisions that could be harming and disrupting your sleep pattern.
Poor Alarm Clock Management
Ever wake up after a great night and still feel exhausted? The problem is actually very common. Sleeping is supposed to be a thoughtless process, but it turns out that spending more time thinking about how you sleep can have a life-changing impact on your restfulness. Most people arbitrarily set their alarm for when they need to wake up.
What you should do? Time when your body wants to wake up. After all, grogginess and feeling refreshed isn’t necessarily caused by how many hours you sleep, but instead by the number of complete sleep cycles you enjoy, according to research published in Applied Cognitive Studies.
When you sleep, you go through 5 different cycles, with the final phase being REM sleep or the period when dreams occur.
During phase 1 your vital signs are closest to being awake, and during stage 4 you’re in your deepest sleep, with your heart rate and blood pressure dropping by as much as 30 %. Each of the 5-phase sleep cycle lasts about 90 minutes.
So what happens when you wake up during your deep sleep? It’s probably how you feel every Monday. Exhausted. This is known as sleep inertia, and a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that morning grogginess could be a bigger impairment than not sleeping all night.
Solution: Time your sleep so that you don’t wake up during the wrong phase of a sleep cycle. A good rule of thumb is aiming for 7.5 or 9 hours of sleep per night. If you must sleep less, 6 hours might prove to be more restful you’re more likely to wake up in the first phase of sleep as opposed to a nagging alarm in the middle of your REM sleep.
Eating Right Before You Sleep
While you might know eating carbs before a nap isn’t a bad thing, it’s important to know when you should have them. Eating before you sleep can offset the benefits of a carb based meal because after you eat, a protein called “c-peptide” is created to help insulin do its job and store nutrients.
A problem: c-peptide is linked to lower levels of melatonin, the hormone that helps you sleep.
According to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, night snacks hurt your overall sleep quality, meaning it’s best to separate sleep and your final meal of the day by approximately 2 hours.
The Vitamin D Paradox
You probably know Vitamin D as the “sunshine vitamin” and for it’s numerous health benefits. These days, you’ll be hard pressed to find a doctor that won’t prescribe Vitamin D, especially during the winter.
But not having enough Vitamin D in your system can cause sleep related problems and daytime sleepiness. Scientists from Louisiana State University discovered the link between low Vitamin D and people with sleep problems—and we’re not just talking about some restless. Lack of vitamin D could be linked to sleep disorders, such as insomnia or sleep apnea.
Remember, Vitamin D is produced by the sun, meaning it’s an indicator of light and daytime. So when you take Vitamin D, it decreases melatonin levels. In some experimental trials, taking Vitamin D at night decreased REM sleep and the number of hours in night time slumber.
The best thing is to supplement Vitamin D first thing in the morning or during the afternoon. Research shows that a safe dosage is between 2,000 and 4,000 IU, preferably from Vitamin D3.
Good hydration is an essential component of your health, but water intake before you sleep can severely disrupt a restful night of sleep, and even cause a disorder known as nocturia. Remember, you sleep in several cycles throughout the night. And when you need to go to the bathroom, it can disturb the most restful periods of sleep making you restless.
Start by trying to remove liquids at least 1-2 hours before you sleep. And then, make sure that you try to make smarter drink choices. Beverages like coffee or tea can trigger a great need to go. And while a little alcohol might appear to help you sleep faster, it will wake up you up sooner and keep you up, as it’s a powerful diuretic.
The Sunshine-Sleep Effect
Just because you take Vitamin D doesn’t mean you should stop going outside. Sleep is a result of your natural circadian rhythms, which are reactions to knowing when you should be awake and when you should be asleep.
But your ability to fall asleep is dependent your body knowing that it’s time for bed. When the sun is out, you need to see it. It builds a more natural daytime circadian cycle of light, meaning that when it’s dark your body is more prone to fall asleep naturally, without any aids, pills, or noise machines.