Sleep is extremely important to human health. Matter of fact, lack of sleep will kill you quicker than lack of food! For years I have avoided getting a new mattress; after all, the one we had for almost 19 years was still springy and looked nice. When discussions escalated to point of spending x-amount on bikes but not being able to afford a good mattress, I knew my wife had me. The research began. I looked and studied the stats and build of most of the popular brands, and surprisingly many are made the same, just varied in how the ingredients of the mattress are put together. After careful debate, we decided on the Simmons Beautyrest Recharge. I did not know what I had been missing. I won’t go into all of the details of my new mattress, but I will say that it is like sleeping in a cloud supported by a cloud that is wrapped in a cloud. From the time I go to sleep, I don’t wake up at all until the next morning. Unconscious. It’s been two weeks now, and I feel incredibly better (in the way of rest) than I have felt in years.
Sleep is something that many people yearn for and many take advantage of. Too much of a good thing is bad. Too little of a good thing is bad. Kristen L. Knutson, PhD, Department of Health Studies, University of Chicago. “There is laboratory evidence that short sleep durations of 4-5 hours have negative physiological and neurobehavioral consequences. We need similar laboratory and intervention studies to determine whether long sleep durations result in physiological changes that could lead to disease before we make any recommendations against sleep extension.” The main number many researchers have concluded is seven. We need 7-8 hours of sleep per day to give our bodies time to heal and recharge. According to the National Sleep Foundation, there are things we can do to rest our bodies:
- Stay with the same bedtime and rise time . . . even on the weekends. This regulates your normal body clock.
- Get into a pre-sleep, relaxing routine. Video games and T.V. are not good before bed. The bright lights stimulate your brain, instead of calming and shutting down. Try reading or listening to relaxing sounds. The T.V. helps me go to sleep is a lame excuse and simply not true. Your body just finally wins the battle and shuts down, usually hours after it already should have.
- Eliminate cat naps . . . especially in the afternoon.
- Exercise daily.
- Evaluate your sleeping chamber. Creaks and pops from a fan or bed can disturb your sleep. The room should be cool. Lights must be an absolute no, covering the light from the alarm clock can even help.
- Comfortable mattress is a must. Aches and pains when waking are a sign of an uncomfortable body.
- Balance your circadian rhythm. Avoid bright lights before bed and welcome bright sunshine in the morning.
- Avoid alcohol, cigarettes, and heavy meals before bed. Always be finished with the consumption of food 2-3 hours before sleep.
- If you are having trouble sleeping, don’t lie there. Sit in a chair and read or sew or listen to soft music. No television or phones.
According to a recent article in Time magazine, spending related to sleep has increased 8.8% since 2008 and topped over $32 billion in 2012 with the increase of energy drinks up 19%! The Center for Disease Control and Prevention report that almost 40 million Americans are sleep deprived. According to IMS Health, there were 58.8 million sleeping pills prescribed in 2012. We have become a people that would rather just buy something to pick them up and later knock them out than develop good sleep habits. It runs in the same family as buy a diet pill instead of exercising.
Sleeping has helped me become more alert in the day, recover better from my rides and work outs, and literally feel younger. I have all together eliminated having to stretch and pop and crackle in the morning. My body doesn’t ache. I look forward to going to bed and feeling refreshed, like topping off my cell phone battery when it’s low. I feel less grumpy too! I am glad my wife and I had the discussion about a new mattress, and this morning when I woke from a good night’s rest, I thought of our friend, Mercutio, in Romeo and Juliet: “O, then, I see Queen mab hath been with you.”
I just smiled. You dang right she has, Will!