Day Light Savings Time- cheers to clocks rolling back an hour….loud cheers or soft cries? For a parent of a chatter box, extremely active, 5 year old- soft cries. Sleep is the prime time for our brains to recharge and refresh. Some might say that sleep is the best meditation. Yet, sleep is also one of the most difficult acts to achieve uninterrupted and feel completely fulfilled. Why? Because there are approximately 86 billion neurons in our brain constantly working overtime to connect synapses to allow us to breath, think, move, and form ideas. Our mind and body is already working so hard, but add on some stress and you’re done. Say bye, bye to productive sleep habits. So often do we hear people say they wish they could “sleep like a baby”, which is where I have come to two conclusions:
- Those people do not have a baby, or have never cared for a baby for extended periods of time because babies do not sleep soundly through the night.
- When babies are sleeping in their bursts of 3-4 hours, they are possibly sleeping uninterrupted because they have little stress in their tiny, cute little lives.
There are many negative effects of stress to our wellbeing that it would take me hours to share all the information, so we will
stick to the effects of stress on sleep. The viscous sleep-stress cycle is never ending. As I began to see tweets about people struggling to get a good night’s rest and that day light savings always ruins their sleep habits, I came across an article from the American Psychological Association highlighting statistics from the 2013 Stress in America survey.
- 43% reported stressed caused them to lie awake at night
- Adults with high reported stress levels slept on average 6.2 hours to the 7.1 hours of those with low reported stress levels.
- 21% of adults reported they felt more stressed when they did not receive enough sleep.
- Only 20% say their sleep is of good or excellent quality
The short story of the survey is that elevated levels of stress cause a lack of sleep. A lack of sleep causes stress. Being at the end cut off of the Millennial generation myself, the information on stress and sleeping habits is alarming. Feeling sluggish or lazy, trouble concentrating, lack of motivation, and lack of care for responsibilities…not great qualities to posses when you are in the middle of planning your future. Stress is a highly complex issue as the number of causes is almost limitless, BUT most are preventable and manageable if you identify the correct tools to understand your stressors and make changes to reduce them. I felt it was important to share this information because when you become aware of the issue and understand real consequences, you start to be more cautious of your own habits. Allowing yourself to be more aware of what can happen if you don’t take steps to reduce stress and get enough sleep, will then drive you to make changes in your day time activities to influence your night time recharging.
By chance, I also stumbled on an article titled “5 Foods That Will Help You Fall Asleep”. Oh the horror of night time snacking, but stick with me. If you have read any of my precious blog posts you will notice I mention food, A LOT. I have a dangerous relationship with food that I am currently working on because you are what you eat and I don’t want to be a cheese doodle, I want to be….a relatively attractive, yet strong and healthy food, whatever that might be. The food we eat can directly impact our moods, self-confidence, stress, and sleep. Stress and sleep, bingo, let’s quickly highlight ways to feed our bodies that can possibly increase sleep which will then (fingers crossed) reduce stress!
- Cheddar Cheese- this delight contains the amino acid, tryptophan which increases the body’s drive to make melatonin; the natural night-night medicine.
- Tart Cherry Juice- I will not be trying this, but according the a study done in the European Journal of Nutrition found that people who drank an ounce of Montmorency cherry juice morning and night, gained 40 more minutes of sleep a night. (If you try this, let me know how it works!)
- Jasmine Rice- of course, studied with men only (BOOOO), men who ate roughly 21 ounces of cooked jasmine rice with 7 ounces of vegetables four hours before bed, fell asleep twice as fast….Well that just seems complicated. Let’s skip that.
- Collard Greens- These calcium filled goodies are a sleep wonder. Calcium helps tryptophan convert to melatonin.
- Black Walnuts- black walnuts over traditional walnuts are said to hold more tryptophan. Walnuts in general are a powerhouse holder of tryptophan AND melatonin. Eat up!
Why did I just throw these statistics and lists at you? Because I care about your wellbeing just as much as I care about mine. I work 40+ hours a week, I am in my last semester of completing my Bachelors degree, and I have a 5 year old…did I mention I am only 22? My life is hectic, stressful, and limited on sleep, but it is BEAUTIFUL. Thankfully, I am in the process of expanding my knowledge on all things personal wellness in terms of empowerment, education, and awareness for self-care, mental wellness, stress reduction, and happiness. Along the way, I am sharing this all with you and I truly hope even the smallest bit of information can help you too. So I ask of you, if you read this far (THANK YOU) tweet me something @mgroberge_ which you do that helps you sleep…share with the twitter world your wisdom so we can collectively be well rested!
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