You all want success in your lives and you all understand that sleep is an essential component of achieving it. What you don't perhaps understand though is: (1) What does it take to get a good nights rest? (2) How much you should actually be sleeping? and (3) What impact does sleep actually have on your physical and mental wellbeing?
As countless books have been written on each of these topics and we don't have the room to fully answer them here in this blog post, we'll just scratch the surface with the promise to get more in-depth in the future. That being said, we expect you to have a certain level of understanding of these three essential components to success once you've completed reading this.
(1) What does it take to get a good nights rest?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and estimated 50-70 million U.S. adults suffer from chronic sleep deprivation (that's over 20% of all U.S. adults). Also, the American Physiological Association notes that those with sleep deprivation have an increased chance of high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, depression, and stroke. So, how can this lack of poor sleep be overcome?
Both medical groups and countless others including WebMD, James Clear, and the Mayo Clinic, state that fortunately much of what we can do to improve our sleep is in our control. Although there may be other factors that require attention such as depression or other physical and mental health problems, the following suggestions are a good place to start.
- Power Down - Compared to 100 years ago, people today are getting less and less sleep. Much of this is due to the fact that our professional and social lives are conveniently at our fingertips. Learning to turn off the TV and set aside the cell phone when bed time comes around will make a significant difference in falling asleep quickly and being able to stick to a certain sleep schedule.
- Stick To a Schedule - Studies show that it takes time for our bodies to properly adjust to our sleep schedules. By following a specific sleep schedule for a sustained period of time (even weekends if possible), our bodies will begin sleeping more deeply and effectively.
- Sleep With Your Head in a 'Neutral' Position (you knew we had to mention this one) - If you ever wake up with a stiff neck, it's likely that you can blame your pillow. To support the natural curve and height of your neck when you're sleeping on your back, side, or stomach, a pillow has to be the perfect size and density. Most pillows on the market simply do not get the job done when it comes to proper support and that's why Brett (our founder) invented the FitMe Pillow.
- Maintain a Regular Exercise Routine - Studies show that following a regular exercise routine increases one's amount and quality of sleep. It especially can help you to more quickly enter deep REM sleep, which is an essential time for recovery and body growth. Be warned though, avoid exercising too late in the day as it will wake up your body and make following a schedule more difficult.
- Avoid The Midnight Munchies - Eating too late in the evening can effect your digestive system, making it more difficult for you to fall asleep. Even more importantly than not eating too late is trying to avoid certain unhealthy foods late at night, which will help your sleeping habits and overall health in general.
As always, know when to see your doctor if the sleeping situation doesn't improve, but we've found these five bullet points to be a strong place to start.
(2) How much you should actually be sleeping?
According to the National Sleep Foundation, the amount of sleep that we need actually varies as we get older. The following are accurate and current estimates:
- Newborns (0-3 months) - 14 to 17 hours of daily sleep
- Infants (4-11 months) - 12 to 15 hours of daily sleep
- Toddlers (1-2 years) - 11 to 14 hours of daily sleep
- Preschoolers (3-5 years) - 10 to 13 hours of daily sleep
- School Age (6-13 years) - 9 to 11 hours of daily sleep
- Teenagers (14-17 years) - 8 to 10 hours of daily sleep
- Young Adults (18-25 years) - 7 to 9 hours of daily sleep
- Adults (26-64 years) - 7 to 9 hours of daily sleep
- Older Adults (65+ years) - 7 to 8 hours of daily sleep
On average (if sleeping the right amount of time) we spend about 1/3 of our entire lives asleep. This time is absolutely essential to our development as human beings and should not be sacrificed for anything. Gallup News, the famous U.S. polling site, reports that about 40% of all American adults are actually getting less than the recommended minimum 7 hours of sleep.
(3) What impact does sleep actually have on your mental and physical wellbeing?
As briefly touched on previously in this blog, sleep can play a very significant role in maintaining good mental and physical health.
One insightful study on this subject was conducted by Harvard Medical. The study and subsequent article discusses sleep habits in general, stating that during every 90 minutes of sleep, a normal sleeper cycles between two major categories of sleep, quiet sleep and REM sleep. The deepest stage of quiet sleep produces physiological changes that help boost immune system functioning. REM sleep enhances learning and memory, and contributes to emotional health in complex ways.
Although scientists are still trying to understand exactly how the sleep process works, they do understand that disrupted sleep or a lack of sleep can have serious detrimental mental effects. The same article by Harvard Medical states the following, "Sleep disruption — which affects levels of neurotransmitters and stress hormones, among other things — wreaks havoc in the brain, impairing thinking and emotional regulation. In this way, insomnia may amplify the effects of psychiatric disorders, and vice versa."
In edition to mental problems, a lack of sleep can cause heart problems, increase the risk of diabetes, make our body age more quickly, and make it harder to lose weight. There is no secret that sleep plays a major role in our overall health and that it's essential to living a healthy life.
If you've made it to this point in the blog post, we are fairly certain that you have gathered that sleep is very important. Hopefully you have answered a few other questions along the way. We ourselves know that sleep is essential and feel that we have a solution to many of your sleeping troubles.
Bret, the FitMe Pillow founder, searched the sleeping pillow industry for over a decade for a cure to his own chronic sleep deprivation. Eventually after being left disappointed, he innovated his own pillow, now called the FitMe Pillow, that combines a patented design and filling to help improve sleep. Thousands have now experienced the benefits of the FitMe Pillow and you can too.
Shop the FitMe Pillow here.