By: Hannah McCall
Did you know World Sleep Day is on March 13th? Have you even heard of World Sleep Day?
Let me tell you what it is. World Sleep Day was created by sleep healthcare providers to bring awareness about sleep being a human privilege. They aim to bring attention to the lack of focus on how sleep should be a priority for both our health and well-being.
Here are some facts on sleep
- There are three elements of good sleep: depth, continuity and duration.
- Six hours of sleep for fourteen nights is the same as not sleeping for two nights when it comes to your brain’s ability to function properly.
- The greatest impact on your quality of life and your body’s ability to function is the quality of your sleep (in comparison to duration).
- 46% of people who are affected by sleep disturbances report missing work/events or making errors at work/events.
- Insufficient sleep costs the US $411 billion per year.
- Two billion individuals are currently dealing with insomnia.
Why is sleep so important?
Sleep is the foundation for our overall health. The relationship between sleep and our health has been shown to affect our health in many ways. Some examples are mood, accidents, obesity, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease to name a few.
What makes the study of sleep so important is that race has been singled out as being a significant factor in the amount and quality of sleep we receive. Those in the Black community often sleep in shorter time spans, as well as lack the time spent in a deep sleep.
It takes Black people longer to fall asleep and sleep well. Personal finances and employment factors have been documented as holding some of the blame for insomnia among this demographic.
Black people are on average sleeping less than six hours a night, when the reality is that our bodies need at least seven to nine hours a night to efficiently function and protect us.
What are the benefits of sleep?
- Sleep helps your brain solidify new information, scientifically referred to as memory consolidation
- It assists your body in processing carbohydrates – without this process your hormones are affected and altered, which in turn affects your body’s ability to stabilize your appetite
- Sleep gives your brain and gut the foundation to regulate your mood
- Your heart’s overall health directly benefits from proper sleep
- Sleep allows your immune system to get the support it needs to properly function and fight disease that may threaten your body
- Inflammation and cell damage are kept at normal levels with adequate sleep
What factors affect your sleep?
- If you feel comfortable in the environment in which you live & sleep
- Caffeine & alcohol
- Relationships and their level of toxicity
- Work shifts
- Your diet & nutrition
It’s up to you to take an assessment of the above factors and determine how much or how little each of them is affecting your sleep. It is true that several of those factors will take more than a quick fix, however, both you and your sleep are worth it.
So what can you do to set yourself up for deep sleep that lasts seven to nine hours?
Create a routine that you commit to every night before bed (or at least every week night).
Such a routine can include things such as:
- Meditation (Use a meditation candle to center yourself & set intentions for your meditation. A candle is a great focal point for manifestation and reflection.)
- Read a book instead of watching TV
- Write in a journal instead of scrolling on IG or Facebook
- Swap your shower for a relaxing bath (Add some calming bath milk to take it up a notch)
Here are a few other habits to incorporate into your life that can positively affect your sleep.
- Therapy – To process all your thoughts & feelings in a healthy manner, instead of keeping them bottled up inside
- Exercise – Aim for 30 minutes of movement a day (don’t be intimidated, you can start small!)
- Sleep with your bedroom temperature at 60 to 70 degrees
- Block out light with curtains (or even a heavy blanket, I’m not judging you!)
- Invest in soft sheets, a blanket, and heavenly pillows
World Sleep Day is supported by the World Sleep Society. If you are interested in becoming a delegate and helping educate communities on sleep, you can sign up here.