Health 102: Sleeping

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Health 101: What Health Is

The Risks of Losing Sleep

  • Physiological (short-term)
    • Increases inflammation and slows healing
    • Weakens immune system
    • Lessens effect of vaccines
    • Causes high blood pressure
    • Creates irregular heartbeats
    • Physically weaker
    • Intensifies chronic pains
    • Diminishes reaction time
    • Exponential risk of major car accident
    • Disrupts circadian rhythm (natural time clock)
    • Tremors
    • Aches
    • Diminished accuracy
    • Decreased body temperature
    • Slurred speech
  • Physiological (long-term)
    • Increases risk of cancer
    • Increases risk of diabetes
    • Increases risk of heart disease
    • Increases risk of stroke
    • Increased risk of Alzheimer’s Disease
    • Causes weight gain
    • Permanent skin damage
    • Diminishes life expectancy
    • Destroys bone tissue
    • Stunts growth
    • Kills brain tissue
    • Increased chance of dying in general
  • Psychological
    • Causes higher levels of depression
    • More unstable mood swings
    • Increases anxiety and irritability
    • Creates difficulty in reading others’ emotions
    • Cluttered thoughts
    • Causes delusions, hallucinations and delusional thinking
    • Impedes learning
    • Diminishes stress management skills
    • Impairs judgment
    • Inhibits creativity
    • Memory problems in retaining, storing or retrieving
    • Increased perception of pain
    • Depression
  • Benefits of being well-rested
    • Looking better, in physical appearance and vitality
    • Better memory
    • General state of happiness
    • More energy
    • Higher likelihood of succeeding professionally
    • Happier and more well-behaved children, if you have any

How To Sleep Well

  • Exercise regularly
    • As little as 10 minutes a day can provide the benefits of getting tired at an appropriate time
    • Exercise heats the body up for 4-5 hours
  • Right before bed:
    • Get in the right mindset
      • Make sleeping a priority
      • Learn to de-stress and wind down at the end of the day
      • Focus on what happened during your day to distract from thinking about trying to sleep
      • Mentally tell yourself that you are tired
    • Practice 4-7-8 deep breathing (4 second inhale, 7 second hold, 8 second exhale)
    • Lower the temperature – a cooler body falls asleep more quickly
    • Take a hot shower – it relaxes the body to prep it for sleep
    • Read a book in bed – it will always make you sleepy
    • Set the temperature right – somewhere between 65 and 72 degrees is ideal
    • Meditate – learn to slow your breathing and relax
  • To sleep better and longer, avoid:
    • Alcohol – can initially cause sleep, but will minimize REM sleep
    • Caffeine – can diminish REM and deep sleep
    • Eating – heart rate goes up to digest food and increases waking up in the middle of the night
    • Fasting – an empty stomach can make it hard to get to sleep
    • Heat – cool temperatures help you go to sleep faster
    • Light – can confuse the body’s clock
      • Working on a Computer – blue light close to bedtime can delay sleep and increase waking up later
    • Noise – can interrupt your sleeping, use earplugs if you need
    • Pets in the Bedroom – can interrupt your sleep
    • Stressful Situations – can delay sleep or reduce deep sleep
    • Sleeping Pills – any sedatives can disrupt the natural sleep cycles
    • Wireless Networks – untested, but run the risk of interfering with natural rhythms
  • Different amounts of napping during the day cause different results:
    • 10 – 20 minutes
      • Ideal for a boost in alertness and energy
      • Limited to lighter sleep stages and is non-REM
      • Very useful for getting creative answers and for a quick re-focusing
    • According to NASA, the perfect nap should last 26 minutes
      • Taking coffee right before a nap will guarantee waking up 20-30 minutes later
    • 30 minutes
      • May cause sleep inertia (a hangover-like groggy effect for up to 30 minutes after waking up) before the nap’s effects become apparent
    • 60 minutes
      • Best nap for improving recall of facts, faces and names
      • Includes slow-wave sleep, the deepest stage
    • 90 minutes
      • A full cycle of sleep, which includes lighter and deeper stages including REM
      • Leads to improved emotional and procedural memory and creativity
      • Typically avoids sleep inertia
    • Healthy adults who don’t get as much sleep as they’d like to should take naps
    • The older people get the less time they will want for napping
    • Sitting slightly upright keeps from sleeping deeply
    • Ideal napping time is usually between 1PM – 4PM, depending on the sleep cycle
    • Napping too late in the day or over 20 minutes can interfere with sleep cycles
  • Have a consistent and full sleep schedule – it takes 7 days to shift a sleeping pattern, but only 1 day to return to an old one
    • There are three different natural patterns (chronotypes) people have:
      • Early chronotype (morning people) – 10% of population
        • Productivity peaks at 9 A.M.
      • Late chronotype (night owls) – 20% of population
        • Productivity peaks at 9 P.M.
      • Intermediate chronotype (middle of day) – 70% of population
        • Productivity varies across the day
    • Wake up at the same time every morning
      • If you wake up before the alarm goes off, don’t go back to bed, since that’s your body’s natural clock waking you
    • Don’t binge sleep on the weekends
    • Learn how much sleep you really need
      • Track when you need to fall asleep naturally with Sleepyti.me
    • There are multiple schedules to keep, and it may be better to do something unconventional:
      • Monophasic – the most common one: 7-9 hours/night
      • Segmented Sleep (Biphasic) – scientifically is the most natural: 3-4 hours at a time, 6-8 hours/night
      • Siesta Sleep (Biphasic) – very common in many European countries: 5-6 hours/night and 20-90 mins during the day
      • Triphasic – easy to switch to from monophasic: every 8 hours sleep 1.5 hours then awake 6.5 hours
      • Everyman – second most intense to adapt to: sleep 4.5-6 hours, then 2 20-minute naps in the day; alternately sleep 3-4 hours with 3 20-minute naps
      • Dual Core Sleep – sleep around dusk, then around dawn, then several naps in the afternoon
      • Uberman – most commonly attempted and failed, very long adaptation period: 6-8 20-minute naps/day
      • Dymaxion – rarely ever accomplished as a sustainable sleep cycle: 4 30-minute naps/day
      • SPAMAYL – Sleep Polyphasically As Much As You Like, much more popular and more flexible: 7-10 naps, ~20 mins/nap

Common Dreams & Their Representations

  • Being Back At School – the work-related side of life
  • Being Cheated On – anxiety about real-life infidelity
  • Being Late or Unable to Perform – fear of failing at an upcoming event
  • Being Lost – insecurity or anxiety
  • Can’t Find the Bathroom – unable to express personal needs
  • Death – feeling a big negative change on the horizon for you or someone close to you or contemplating dying
  • Driving Out-of-Control Vehicle – feeling of being out of control
  • Falling – feeling a lack of control or insecurity, or a sense of failure
  • Flying – feeling freedom
    • Trouble Flying – impediment to freedom
  • Food – symbolizes energy, knowledge or nourishment
  • Houses – representative of the self, basements hold secrets while inner rooms are deep personal things
  • Nakedness – vulnerability and exposure in a situation
  • Paralysis – feeling of powerlessness
  • Pregnancy – growth or a new experience, unacknowledged desire to create something
  • Running – could be from a problem or struggle or to a goal or achievement
  • Sex/Friends – desire for others’ traits
  • Snakes – hidden threats
  • Spiders – manipulating a situation or feeling of being manipulated
  • Teeth – confidence and strength
    • Teeth Falling Out – loss of confidence or strength
  • Test/Exam Day – difficulties with managing life or failing at responsibilities
  • Unable to Make a Phone Call – communication problems
  • Vehicles – represents the power for us to achieve or move forward
  • Water – life or the emotional side of existence, the state of the water refers to feelings needing to be confronted
Next: How To Have A Good Memory