Scientifically reviewed by CountingSheep.net Team

Written by

Dusan

Dusan is a biologist, a science enthusiast and a huge nature lover. He loves to keep up to date with all the new research and write accurate science-based articles. When he’s not writing or reading, you can find him in the kitchen, trying out new delicious recipes; out in the wild, enjoying the nature or sleeping in his bed.

Does Warm Milk Help You Sleep?

A glass of warm milk before bed can help you fall asleep. Milk is rich in nutrients that can help people sleep.

It’s 2 am, you are lying wide awake in your bed after tossing and turning for a couple of hours, and you don’t know if you’ll be able to fall asleep. If you have ever found yourself in this situation, don’t worry, you are not alone. Almost everybody experiences insomnia at some point in their lives. Insomnia is described as a difficulty to fall (sleep-onset insomnia) or stay asleep (sleep maintenance insomnia), or the term is used for general sleeping problems.

There are a few things that can help you with falling asleep faster and improving your sleep quality. We’ve all heard advice that a glass of warm milk before bed can help you sleep. But is it just an old myth that has been passed down by generations, or does science confirm this? The answer is not simple as it is a little bit of both, so read on to learn more about it.

 

Why Milk?

What makes milk such a good sleep aid candidate? As it turns out, milk is rich in nutrients that can help people sleep. One of those nutrients is tryptophan. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid used as a building block for many of the body’s proteins. One of the most common ones is serotonin, also known as the hormone of happiness. It is a precursor for melatonin, a hormone that has a role in our sleep/wake cycles. Melatonin is mostly produced at night, and it signals our brain that it is a time to go to sleep. Its production peaks during the night, and then it slowly fades as we approach the dawn. During the day, the production stops, and then it begins again in the evening, thus regulating when we should go to sleep, and when is the time to be alert and do our daily activities.

Beside tryptophan, milk is also rich in calcium that has many functions in the human body and cell functioning, and it is also important for sleep maintenance. However, researchers agree that the amounts found in milk are not enough to affect sleep. There is also a problem of a blood-brain barrier, as it doesn’t let tryptophan enter the brain easily. The blood-brain barrier is there to protect the brain from getting damage if something dangerous enters our bloodstream, but it also keeps larger molecules away, that could potentially be beneficial.  Foods rich in carbohydrates induce the production of insulin which makes it easier for tryptophan to go to the brain. On the other hand, foods that contain lots of protein make it harder to happen, and milk is full of protein. Adding a little honey to your glass of warm milk might help, but it is less likely that you will enjoy benefits to your sleep from the physical perspective, but rather from a psychological one.

Since our bodies can’t produce tryptophan by themselves, we need to ingest it. Other foods rich in tryptophan include various fishes like salmon and cod, sunflower, chia, and other seeds, eggs, almonds, cashews, pistachios, spinach, beans, lentils, pork, chicken, turkey and many more. Tryptophan was long blamed for a food coma that many people experience after the Thanksgiving dinner since it is rich in tryptophan. We now know that you would need to eat around 40 pounds of turkey for it to have such an effect, so there is something other besides that phenomenon, and scientists are still trying to figure out what that is.

 

Milk’s Sleep Inducing Abilities

If levels of tryptophan are not high enough to help us sleep better, is drinking a warm glass of milk before bed for better sleep just a myth? Maybe not. As we said earlier, there is more to this than only the physical consequences of macronutrients. Researchers suggest that drinking milk before bed might remind people of those toddler days, when their caregiver would feed them before bedtime. This association is embedded deeply in our brains, and it evokes the feelings of calm and relaxation. It might also be due to your bed routine. If this is your usual activity before you go to bed, your brain knows it, and it starts to prepare for sleep as you drink your milk. Taking that few minutes to drink it may also help you unwind, away from screens and technology, and if you are relaxed, you are more likely to fall asleep faster.

The research of the effects that warm milk has on sleep started almost 50 years ago, in 1972. Researchers wanted to see the impact that the warm milk drink called Horlicks had on nightly rest. There were three groups of people studied, where one didn’t have anything to drink before bed, while the others had warm water or Horlicks. The results showed that the subjects who drank Horlicks before bed had less nocturnal movements, therefore concluding that they had better quality sleep.

A 2007 study looked into the effects fermented milk had on the sleep patterns of the elderly. Twenty-nine healthy subjects aged 60-81 had either fermented milk or a placebo drink before bed. There was an observable effect in sleep efficiency and a decrease of waking episodes in the group who had fermented milk, hinting that it could potentially be helpful to the sleep quality in seniors.

A 2015 article discovered that the milk that was harvested at night had higher amounts of tryptophan and melatonin. Night milk was administered to mice at various concentrations, and they were also given day milk to compare the effects. The animals given night milk showed decreased spontaneous locomotion and also impaired coordination and motor balance. The mice needed less time to fall asleep, and they had a longer sleep duration. It also looked like the night milk helped with some anxiety disturbances, as they behaved better in an elevated plus maze test. These are promising results, and it puts night milk as a potential natural aid for sleep and anxiety problems.

Combining milk with other sleep-inducing activities might be helpful for seniors according to a 2014 study. The researchers examined the effects the leisure-time physical activity and drinking milk had on older adults. It turned out that doing both of these activities significantly reduced the time that it took to fall asleep. Individuals who participated in both activities had less difficulty initiating sleep that people who did only one of these actions.

Although macronutrients don’t seem to play a role in sleep for otherwise healthy adults, it looks like the elderly, or individuals with some vitamin or melatonin deficiency could benefit from drinking a glass of milk. Vitamins B and D, as well as magnesium and potassium, could contribute to better sleep.

 

Tips For Better Sleep

We’ve mentioned some things that could help you sleep, and here is a short list of behavior and activities you can practice if you want to enjoy better sleep:

 

Scientifically reviewed by CountingSheep.net Team

Written by

Iva

Iva is an art historian and an art lover who always had a passion for writing and sleep! When she is not researching and testing new mattresses on the market, you can find her binge-watching TV shows, eating tons of junk food or playing with her dog Bart.

Noises Used For Improving Sleep

Many types of noise can help people sleep by relaxing them and allowing them to drift off itno blissful slumber.

There are many types of noise that help people sleep, and many sleepers tend to use these noises for drifting off into blissful slumber. Most individuals use white noise – a term used to describe all static frequencies put together to make relaxing ambient sounds. Other types of noises or different colors of noises are pink, blue, brown and red, and they can also help with falling and remaining asleep.  

The noises are usually associated with colors, similar to light. White light looks white because it is a combination of all the colors of the rainbow equally represented. In the same manner, white noise is a combination of similarly represented frequencies, whether the lower or higher ones. Also, there are other colors of noise, such as red noise, pink noise, blue noise, brown noise, and grey noise and scientists are just beginning to explore their functions.

 

What is White Noise?

White noise is similar to white light. It is a combination of all the sound frequencies that we can hear, just like all prism colors are combined in white light. It has a range of different frequencies with the same amplitude, which is measured in Hertz. Frequencies indicate the number of vibrations produced by the sound wave per second. White noise sounds like a waterfall and its volume does not change with frequency changes. Therefore it is very efficient in masking noises from our environment and alleviating tinnitus troubles.

According to research, it can also help induce sleep. In healthcare, it is used to treat increased sensitivity to environmental sounds. However, the sound of pure white noise is often harsh for our ears because its frequency range can be very high or very low. It is often mistaken for pink noise, which also has a range of frequencies, but its volume decreases with the frequency increase. Therefore pink noise sounds more balanced and susceptible to the human ear.

White noise has been studied widely, with the outcomes indicating its ability to help us fall asleep easier or calm down patients in hospitals by blocking background noises. For example, a fan in one room can block the sounds from the other room, helping you to calm down and fall asleep, which gives the noise a fan produces the character of white noise. It is similar to the murmur of a large number of people where our brain cannot differentiate any particular voice, but a buzz of sounds, which is also considered to be white noise. The fact that the white noise can cut through environmental sounds has qualified it for use in everyday life, for example in sirens of emergency vehicles.

 

What is Pink Noise?

White noise and pink noise are similar in the sense that we can hear them equally, but there is a difference between them when it comes to frequencies. It refers to the fact that both of them cover the range of 20 hertz to 20,000 hertz. However, they differ in the way their signal is distributed. White noise power per hertz is even throughout all frequencies, whereas pink noise power per hertz decreases as the frequency increases, resulting in more power in lower frequencies than in higher ones.

Pink noise is a combination of several natural sounds, such as thunder, ocean waves crashing, a huge waterfall, steady rain falling or the wind rushing through the leaves, so it is optimized for our listening perception, whereas white noise might sound thin or harsh. Its pattern is present in our daily heartbeat rhythm or traffic flow. However, what is pleasant for our ears is a singular sensation, so some scientists tend to advocate the idea that whatever we find relaxing will work for us. In that respect, some people find techno music relaxing with its steady beat, but for others, it might be annoying. The concept is that both white and pink noises benefit our relaxation by eliminating background sounds, but some people find pink noises deeper and gentler, helping them to improve their focus, sleep better and cure headaches. Some noises that don’t bother us during the day as they are masked by other daily sounds, such as faucet dripping, can become our nightmare during the night, as the surrounding silence enhances them.

With age, our deep sleep becomes critical, thus causing the whole range of side effects, such as the loss of concentration and memory. This is where the pink noise can help according to some researches who suggest listening to soothing sounds – a mix of high and low frequencies that are balanced, as a solution. As we mentioned above, the volume of higher frequencies in pink noise is milder, meaning that – the higher the frequency, the lower the sound, so the sounds seem equally strong and the listening experience relaxing. Thus, the sounds do not seem as high as in white noise. However, the research of pink noise is not as extensive as in the case of white noise. Some studies indicate that constant pink noise helps by reducing brain wave complexity. It is also said to induce better sleep in the sense of its quality and duration. What is interesting is that in specific studies some subjects exposed to pink noise experienced longer deep sleep and better quality napping than the subjects exposed to no noise.

Also, in another study, subjects were shown several word pairs before being exposed to pink sound during the deep sleep phase, whereas another group was not exposed to any sound. The group of subjects exposed to pink sounds was able to remember twice as many word pairs as compared to the no sounds group the following day, displaying much better memory. The main reason for this is considered to be the fact that the frequency of pink noise sounds was synchronized with the subjects’ brain waves. However, after a clinical trial on how different color sounds affect tinnitus, it has been concluded that pink noise did not have any effect on patients with tinnitus. Two-thirds of patients exposed to different color noises preferred white noise, and the rest of them chose red noise, while pink noise was not the preferred choice for any of them. Such a result indicated the necessity to tailor the treatment according to the needs of each individual patient.

One must always bear in mind that we all respond to noises differently, so the advice of the researcher mentioned above is that we should all find what works for us best. Pink noise has its application in everyday life such as for testing loudspeakers. It is also applied in business more and more, since it can mask the low-frequency background sounds, which help to enhance the concentration of employees, thus increasing their productivity.

Finally, as we noted, the research into the benefits of pink noise is still limited. More studies are required to definitely conclude how the effects of pink noise are different from white noise and other noise colors.

 

Other Types of Noises

Apart from white and pink, there are many other colors of noise. Among those colors are brown, blue, violet, and gray.

Brown noise got its name after a botanist named Robert Brown. He discovered the Brownian motion (random particle motion). The noise is also known as Brownian noisy to its random change in sound signal. It has a spectral density that is oppositely proportional to the frequency. This means that the power decreases while the frequency increases, and because of that it makes a lot of energy while having a low-frequency. To us, brown noise is actually very similar to white noise. The difference is that brown noise is much deeper, with a sound that has a low roar, and it contains all the humanly audible frequencies that boost the lower frequency range, which can be very useful for enhancing sound privacy, blocking out annoying noises and for treating hyperacusis and tinnitus.

Blue or azure noise has low frequency components without any concentrated spikes in energy. It is sometimes regarded as high-frequency white noise, but its spectral density is proportional to its frequency. Each successive octave increases by three decibels, which is why the power increases along with the frequency. This blue noise is biased toward higher frequencies, so it results in a high-pitched sound without any base. The noise is used for dithering – a process in which you add noise to a track in order to smooth out the sound and minimize the distortions.

Violet or purple noise is defined with the power increase with each increased octave in the frequency. Because it is the result of a white noise signal differentiation, the noise is also known as differentiated white noise.

Grey noise is random white noise that is the result of a loudness curve that happens in a range of frequencies. At all frequencies, the listener gets an equally loud perception of the sound. That is the opposite of the standard white noise that has an equal strength on all frequencies but does not make an equally loud sound on all of them.

 

How to Generate Environmental Noise and Block Sounds?

White noise or sound machines are the ones used for generating different colors of noise. Do not be fooled by the name, it does not produce white noise only. These machines can make all the different colors of noise, with white, pink, blue, brown, violet and grey being the most popular options. And many of these machines shave a collection of natural and ambient sounds that come with them.

Apart from white noise machines, you can find a variety of white noise apps for smartphones that vary with the options of sound selection and quality. Some have extensive noise and natural sound selections, but many more have a limited selection. This depends on how much the app costs.

Electric and ceiling fans can also be used as white noise machines. They produce a soothing whirr, very similar to white noise, and if the whirring is loud enough, you can block outside noise to a noticeable extent.

Noise-cancelling headphones are very useful for sleepers that do not like hearing white noise or any sound during their sleep. Headphone models that do not penetrate the ear but still cover it are the best choice. Similar to headphones, you can get earplugs that block outside noise. They mold to the contours of the user’s ear and effectively block all sounds. However, contrary to headphones, long-term use is not recommended for earplugs because they can cause many problems like earwax buildup and tinnitus.

 

Benefits of Falling Asleep to Ambient Noise

Each color of noise has its benefits that fit the needs of different sleepers. White noise is best for sleepers who like intense noise and live in very loud neighborhoods, or expect to be sleeping in loud environments. Pink noise is for individuals that like deep and bass-driven sounds, similar to thunderstorms. Brown noise is ideal for those who love hearing soothing noises, similar to a waterfall or falling waves. Blue noise is helpful for people who like high-pitched noises, like those you can hear from harsh wind. Violet noise is also for those who like high-pitched sounds, but they prefer noises similar to whistling kettles. Grey noise fits people who love hearing static at a constant volume.

As we mentioned before, there are many benefits to using white noise and other noise colors. Here are certain general benefits environmental noise can offer you.

Effective Noise Blocking

These noises have audible frequencies that block all outside noises. Music can also block noises if it matches the frequency, but it has been proven to be less effective to block different frequencies. It does an excellent job at masking the sound of office machines, loud congestion area, co-workers, roommates, and it can create a more productive environment.

Helpful For Infants

It is a good sleep aid for adults, but it can also help babies. The noises have proven to have a calming effect on infants and newborns before their bedtime. They also have a relaxing effect during meals and feeding. It also helps older children that have sleep problems.

Improves Concentration

Adults or children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), or even other disorders, have poor sleep problems. Attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD) usually happens to a child that is about to go into puberty, and it can continue to last in adulthood too.  The symptoms of these disorders can severely impact sleep. Children with ADHD have sleep issues and heightened daytime sleepiness. Among the symptoms are also difficulty waking up early, bedtime anxiety, occasional parasomnias, and sleep onset and/or maintenance problems. Noise therapy, especially white noise therapy, is often used to help increase cognitive function and concentration for individuals with these problems. Additionally, listening to white noise during the day – during work or studying, has positive effects on concentration too.

Improved Sleep Onset and Maintenance

Sleep onset is the process in which you fall asleep, and sleep maintenance is the ability to be asleep. Noise, in particular, white and pink, have proven to be helpful for falling asleep, and for improving sleep maintenance and sleep onset. There are white noise machines and apps that have sleep timers that are very effective for these issues. These machines can be programmed to last until morning, so you will be able to listen to ambient noise during the whole night.

Handy Travel Help

Individuals that travel a lot have many difficulties with falling asleep while traveling with trains, planes, buses or any other form of transportation. In these cases, white noise serves as a useful aid for sleeping and for blocking noise in any loud setting. Many white noise machines that are available on the market today have a headphone jack.

 

Scientifically reviewed by CountingSheep.net Team

Written by

Michael

Michael is a professional writer based in Boston and someone who has always been fascinated with the mysteries of sleep. When he’s not reading about new sleep studies and working on our news section, you can find him playing video games or visiting local comic book stores.

Why Caregivers Need Better Sleep?

In our quest to promote healthy sleep, we set out to arm ourselves with knowledge about how caregiving negatively impacts your sleep causing fatigue, stress, and what is commonly referred to as ‘caregiver burnout’. We’ve read up on some studies to try and understand the challenges that you’re facing and what you’re going through, and we’ve taken the time to prepare some useful tips on what to do when the caregiving life starts taking its toll on your sleep.

Here’s to the caregivers. The noble, selfless people taking on the responsibility to always be on-call for another person in need. Here’s to the ones who spend countless hours helping their loved ones. 

While we truly appreciate what you do for your loved ones, we have a question for you – If you spend countless hours helping out, when are you sleeping? 

With all of your other responsibilities, hobbies, and plans, we bet your sleep and sleeping patterns are utterly destroyed. To find the time to sleep seems intangible. You need to be relaxed enough to fall asleep. Do you find your caregiving responsibilities hindering your ability to relax? 

In our quest to promote healthy sleep, we set out to arm ourselves with knowledge about how caregiving negatively impacts your sleep causing fatigue, stress, and what is commonly referred to as ‘caregiver burnout’. We’ve read up on some studies to try and understand the challenges that you’re facing and what you’re going through, and we’ve taken the time to prepare some useful tips on what to do when the caregiving life starts taking its toll on your sleep. 

So, without further ado, let’s dive right into it. 

What the studies say? 

Oh, the number of studies (like this one or this one over here) exploring the idea that caregiving is linked to how good you sleep all say the same thing – Caregiving is undoubtedly characterized by a lot less sleep and longer time to fall asleep. People not only report poorer sleep but greater fatigue, stress, and symptoms of depression. 

Let’s give attention to the stress caregiving comes with. The idea of holistic health is to have every part of your life very well balanced. And when you are in a position to care for a loved that’s suffering from dementia or cancer, the balance quickly dissipates. The primary reason? It’s so darn stressful! Add the fact that a lot of caregiving is done at night to the mix, and you’ll begin to understand why you complain about your sleep deprived self. Continuously waking up at night directly impacts your sleep-wake cycles and when this turns into a habit, the quality of your sleep starts to deteriorate exponentially. 

We’ve drifted a little bit. Let’s get back to the stress part. While caregivers report high spiritual well-being and social support, they also report stress so particularly intense that it finds its own term in the medicinal vocabulary – caregiver burden. 

What’s more concerning is that a fifth of caregivers turn to smoking, liquor or sleep meds to help them cope with everything that’s going on, and all of that leads to addiction all too often. 

It’s a never-ending cycle. Stress leads to sleep deprivation and insomnia, caregiving becomes more challenging due to the impact on your overall health. All of that leads to even more stress which in turn creates even more difficulty in maintaining sleep. Complete the cycle a few times and watch as you begin to feel the symptoms of caregiver burnout. 

Caregivers, beware of sleep deprivation 

Make a habit of not getting enough sleep for too long, and watch as you slowly get sucked into the realm of chronic sleep deprivation. What’s even more troubling is that if you let sleep deprivation hit you on your forehead, you will put your loved one at risk. 

You see, the sleep-deprived not only have trouble focusing, but their reaction times also get all slow and sluggish. Hell, you might even start forgetting where you put your keys, let alone trying to take care of a loved one properly. Sleep deprivation is a sort of caregivers’ hell – especially if your to-do list contains something important as administering medication. Research after research clearly shows that healthcare professionals who do their job while they’ve had an hour of sleep the last 4 nights are more likely to make mistakes and put their patients at risk. 

Let’s connect all of it now. Think of it like this. Less and poorer quality sleep equals emotional instability. Being sleep deprived means affecting the REM phase that helps your subconscious process all the things that had an emotional impact you the day before. Without balanced REM sleep, you basically turn into emotional wreckage. Your fuse will become shorter and shorter, you will find yourself throwing anger tantrums, oh and you will cry over the smallest of setbacks. 

While REM regulates emotions, deep sleep regulates your physique. During the deep sleep phase, your body does the much-needed restorative work from the physical efforts the day before. Since being a caregiver is a job that involves emotional stability as much as physical health, going through the phase of deep sleep is incredibly important. 

Further down the road of sleep deprivation comes weight gain. Getting into the habit of missing out on your sleep dysregulates leptin production – the hormone responsible for regulating your appetite. It’s interesting how sleep deprivation plays tricks on you and overproduce ghrelin instead – ghrelin is the criminal hormone that makes us crave fatty, sugary food. Fast forward this scenario a month or two, and we’re certain you are already 10 pounds overweight, wishing you’d never got into caregiving. Woah, let’s not go there, what you are doing is selfless and noble – always remember that. 

Let’s get back on the subject. We’ve got sleep deprivation affecting your REM, your deep sleep, your weight gain, so what’s next on the agenda? 

Your immune system. The more you are sleep deprived, the less you are well-rested, resulting in the probability that you will catch a cold going through the roof and up into the skies! If you’re sick, you can’t properly care for someone else, now can you? 

All of this sounds incredibly intimidating, but not as intimidating as long-term sleep deprivation. The kind that turns one restless night into hundreds, the kind that has you on the ropes of serious health issues like cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, endocrine disorders, kidney disease, altered immune functioning and full-blown depression.

To top it all off, not scheduling some “me” time that includes lots of sleep means you are missing out on all sorts of other activities that make life worth living. Let’s see how you answer a few questions. When’s the last time you’ve spent some quality time friends with family? When’s the last time you’ve read a book or enjoyed a movie? When’s the last time you had a good night’s sleep? And let us tell you – being able to answer positively on all these questions starts with a good night’s sleep. 

Counting sheep’s advice for caregivers 

How much sleep does one need exactly? While the recommended amount for adults ranges from 7 to 8 hours per night, most caregivers sleep less than that. 

It’s a problem you should tackle head on, caregivers. Get better sleep, we beg of you. Start devising a plan to achieve it right now. Both you and your loved ones will be grateful for it. Not only will you feel better, but you’ll also do your job better, and you’ll do it with a smirk on your face. 

Since we desperately want to lend you a helping hand, we’ve prepared several pieces of advice and tips on how to get your overall holistic health back through better sleep. So, here we go. 

Seek assistance 

Remember Lord of the Rings? Frodo was given a duty to fulfill, but over the course of the plot, we find out that he couldn’t have done it without the help of his friends. It’s the same with caregiving. It’s just too much of a burden to bear for one person. That’s why it’s a good idea to seek assistance. Reach out to professional caregivers, look for respite care services, maybe even discuss moving to assisted living facilities with your loved one. Other than that, form an emotional support system around you. Your family members and friends are there to lend a helping hand. See what they can do for you. They could take on a shift once a week. Even if it’s something small as going to the supermarket or walking your dog for you, it will make the exhausting burden of caregiving just a little more bearable. 

Bedroom is the room you sleep in

We often think of bedrooms as sacred temples reserved for sleep, restoration, and recovery only. You should too. What this means is that you should avoid doing anything other than sleep in your bedroom. No activities. No work. No worries. No stress. And especially no caregiving. In fact, go the distance to devoid all the clutter in your bedroom reminding you of work or responsibilities. 

When we said to think of your bedroom as a sacred temple, we weren’t kidding. Make an effort to keep your bedroom cool, quiet, and dark. Invest in a mattress that’s cozy and comfy. Buy incense sticks or essential oils to help soothe you when you go to sleep. Get a houseplant that can purify the air and help induce sleep. 

Maintain a good sleeping hygiene 

Quality sleep begins with quality habits. Think about it – would heavy meals or heavy exercise right before bedtime help you to have a good night’s sleep? Will liquor and coffee do your sleeping hygiene any good after hours? 

Don’t stop there, though. Make absolutely sure you turn off any tech and electrical gadgetry before dream time. Electrical devices emit blue light that your brain transcodes as sunlight itself. In simpler words, blue light makes you think it’s daytime which will make a lot harder to fall asleep. 

Maintain a tight sleep schedule 

As we’ve already discussed – good habits equal good sleep. A tight sleep schedule is imperative for maintaining regular sleeping patterns. Make going to bed and waking up at the same time every day your habit. The more you practice this, the easier it will be to wake up and fall asleep at pre-set times. 

Make your days stress-free

This can be tough to squeeze in with all your responsibilities, but daytime exercise can help you de-stress and release negative energy. The ideal time for a workout that will help improve your sleep is in the morning. 

Another thing you can do to unwind and decompose during the day is yoga. Not only will you stay fit and flexible, but you will learn all the breathing exercises that go a long way in eliminating stress. 

Make your nights stress-free 

We will say it yet again. The third time’s the charm – good habits equal good life. Following this golden nugget, make a routine before bedtime too. Give soothing activities a go before bed. Take a bubble bath. Meditate your stress away. Put the breathing exercises you learned at yoga to good use. As you practice these activities, you will find your mind and body slowly starting to relax and get into a state where falling asleep is a piece of cake. 

Journal your worries away 

Journaling is that one-takes-care-of-all-things method of de-stressing. Not only will you find resolutions to your problems through writing, but you will also have a way to emotionally vent. Think about it as a medium in which you can express worry, anger, and frustration instead of throwing tantrums at other people. You will also have the opportunity to reflect on your experiences and challenges as a caregiver. To top off all of these benefits, journaling also provides a well-deserved break. Seriously, every time you feel like you are going to implode, take just 10 minutes a day to journal your stresses away.

Scientifically reviewed by CountingSheep.net Team

Written by

Renata

Renata is an economist who has always had a passion for writing. She is a dog lover, Netflix addict and a sleepaholic. When she is not busy doing sleep research, she spends her time reading books, hiking and playing video games.

Useful Tips for Sleeping Well While Camping

If you want to sleep well while camping and appreciate fresh air and starry night skies, some useful camping tips will help you achieve this.

Camping is an excellent option for people who want to take some rest from everyday worries and stress and spend a couple of days away from modern conveniences. It is a perfect way to spend some quality time alone or with friends, being close to nature and enjoying peace and quiet. If you need to recharge your batteries a bittake your mind off worries at least for a little while, and reset your internal clockgoing camping with friends will do the trick. However, you should keep in mind that the way you sleep can be a makeorbreak factor that can affect your entire trip. Many people simply can’t sleep well at a campground because of a variety of reasons. Of course, camping is a peaceful way to spend time with close friends, but it doesn’t mean that you will enjoy a night of quality rest away from the comfort of your bedroom. In case you want to get a good night’s rest while camping and appreciate fresh air and starry night skies properly rested, we will suggest some tips that will make this possible.  

 

Be Careful When Choosing Your Campsite 

If you decide to go camping, you need to keep in mind that the right choice of the campsite is crucial when setting up your tent, and it can not only affect your sleep but your entire trip as well. It is crucial to find a flat space for your tent, and if it is not possible and you have a slight hill, your head should always be uphill. Also, make sure to clean the ground from twigs and rocks, as if you don’t do it, you will feel these things beneath your tent, which is often far from comfortable. You should also opt for softer grounds, such as pine needles and grass, and if you notice any large rocks, be sure to remove them. Another thing that you should avoid is pitching your tent too close to bushes and trees, as they may brush against them during a breeze, which not only sounds annoying but can also damage your tent and prevent you from getting the rest that you deserve. Remember that the choice of the campsite can have a huge impact on your sleep quality.  

 

Be Wise When Choosing Your Tentmates 

You should know that the choice of people you go on a camping trip with can significantly influence your sleep, especially if you all stay in the same tent. It doesn’t take long for a tent to become overcrowded, and relaxing and being able to sleep easily in this environment can be a bit tricky. Things get even worse if your tentmates can’t stop talking in the evening, and prevent you from getting enough shut-eye by doing so. Snoring tentmates also contribute to poor sleep, and so does tossing and turning frequently during the night. Sleeping only a few inches from snoring people who toss and turn a lot probably won’t result in restful shut-eye. If you want to sleep well while camping, you need to know everything about the sleep habits of your friends or consider resting solo and pitching your tent far away from your friends. You can also convince your spouse to go camping with you as you are already used to sleeping in the same bed and already know everything about each other’s sleep and pre-sleep habits. 

 

Pick the Right Tent 

If you want to enjoy the benefits of restful nights when camping, your choice of tents can be crucial. Many different models are available on the market with various features, and you should pick a model that fits your wishes and needs. A critical thing that you need to take into consideration is the size. Different sizes are available, from those that fit one person to large tents that can accommodate up to 15 people. However, whatever you want in a tent, you should go for one size larger. For example, if you are planning to go camping only with your spouse, you should get a model made for three sleepers, as it will ensure that you have extra space for your belongings, or to sprawl out more comfortably. Materials used are also vital when it comes to choosing the right tent, and you should go for a weatherproof model. Make sure that your tent is well-ventilated, especially if you are going on a trip during the summer, and insulated, which is critical when camping during colder months.  

 

Choose the Right Sleeping Bag 

People who want to go camping can’t buy just any sleeping bag as not all of them are the same. It is not a good idea to buy the first one that you see in a store. If you have the right model that is ideal for your sleeping habits, situation, and temperature, it will help you sleep well. Keep in mind that sleeping bags differ in ratings, and you should pick the one that fits your needs and is the right choice for temperatures that you are expecting. However, this rating can vary depending on the manufacturer, and it is the best idea to check reviews to see what others have to say about it. Another thing that you should consider is the size of a sleeping bag, and it depends on your sleeping habits. For example, if you turn over a lot per night, a standard size may lack room, and if this is the case, you should opt for larger sizes that have enough space for movement. 

 

Don’t Forget to Bring the Right Bedding 

A wide variety of options is available when it comes to tent bedding products. If you want to rest comfortably throughout the night and have the proper bed cushioning, you should opt for some type of sleep platforms. The most popular type are air mattresses. They are an ideal and deluxe option for this type of trips, and they are very comfortable and resemble home mattresses. The right camping mattress can improve your sleep a lot. However, air models can be heavy, which is not always a perfect solution, and you should also have a pump to inflate them. Self-inflating foam pads are compressible mattresses that have a spongy foam, and the shell is made of nylon that is waterproof. When you twist the valve, the vacuum will fill and expand the foam. These pads are very lightweight, compactable, and offer extra comfort. A regular foam tent sleeping pad is excellent for sleeping on cold or frozen ground and can be used on rough surfaces (as opposed to inflatable pads). These models are light, budget-friendly, and have excellent insulation, but they can be a bit bulky. Finally, air pads are lightweight and comfortable, but they don’t come with auto-inflation. If you want to know how to make tent camping comfortable, you should keep in mind that having the right pillow is vital. The most popular solution is choosing inflatable pillows as they are very comfortable and lightweight. You can also bring the pillow that you use in your bedroom. Down pillows and memory foam pillows are excellent for camping as they are very comfortable and will help you sleep better. If you, by any chance, don’t forget to bring a pillow, you can always use a substitute. 

 

Warm Your Sleeping Bag 

The idea of getting into a cold bed is not appealing to most people, and if you want to avoid something like this on a trip, you should warm up your sleeping bag before going to sleep. These bags are not warm on their own and they take heat from the body instead and hold it thanks to their insulation. If you want to crawl into a warm sleeping bag in the evening, one of the ways to do this is to boil a pot of water an hour before bedtime, let it cool a bit, and pour it into a heat-resistant water bottle. You should put this bottle into your sleeping bag as it will warm it up. Be sure to check if it is closed tightly first. Another thing to try is to use sleeping bag liners or stuff in extra clothing into your bag. 

 

Wear Proper Clothes 

Choosing the right clothes for your camping trip is equally important as picking the right sleeping bag. If you are going on this trip during the summer, the last thing you want is to be sweaty while inside your sleeping bag. That’s why you should plan ahead and never go unprepared. It is the best idea to sleep in loose and light clothing in warm weather, and if you are still hot, you should sleep in your underwear. It is up to you to choose the most suitable option.  

On the other hand, if you are camping in cold weather, you surely don’t want to strip down to your underwear and spend the entire night like that. Instead, you need to opt for thicker clothes that will help you stay warm. Just make sure you don’t wear too many layers as something like this will not only restrict your movements but it also won’t help you sleep better at night. The best choice for cold weather is a sweatshirt and a pair of sweatpants of medium thickness. No matter the weather, always make sure that you sleep in clean PJs and clothes, as dirty clothes are not ideal for sleeping and it won’t help you feel fresh in the morning. 

 

Bring Earplugs 

Some campers prefer drifting off to dreamland to the sounds of nature, while others can’t stand the sound of bugsanimals, and other camping noises at night, and can’t relax properly. If you fall into the second category, you can block this noise with earplugs. They will also help you if your camping buddies are chatting until the late hours, or snoring while sleeping. Many different sounds are around when camping, and they can disrupt your sleep. Luckily, earplugs can help you prevent something like this. They are a very cheap and small solution that can be found in supermarkets. Thanks to them, you will enjoy a good night’s rest without having to worry about whether the outside noise will wake you up or not. 

 

Be Active During the Day 

If you want to sleep better at night, you will increase your chances of achieving this goal if you go hiking, paddling, fishing, or do whatever else comes to mind, instead of sitting around the campfire the entire day eating hot dogs and marshmallows. Wearing yourself with physical activity during the day will tire your body and help you drift off to sleep easier in the evening. Breathing in fresh air will also improve your sleep. When the evening comes, you will sleep like a baby because of the exhaustion from daily physical activity. 

 

Stick to Your Normal Sleep Schedule 

If you want to sleep better at night, it is the best idea to stick to your at-home schedule. One of the things that contribute to poor sleep is a routine that is constantly changing. If you want to get enough good night’s rest, you need to maintain a consistent schedule even when going camping. It means that, if you are used to going to bed at 10 p.m. you should go to sleep at the same time, even if you are on a trip. In case you decide to go to bed earlier, you may not be able to drift off to dreamland because of your circadian rhythms. Luckily, you don’t have to go to work in the morning, which means that you can sleep late. 

 

Drink Herbal Tea by the Campfire 

Many people love drinking hot chocolate and eating marshmallows at a campfire, but the caffeine and sugar that chocolate contains may affect your sleep in a negative way. That’s why it is a much better idea to opt for herbal teas that will relax your body and mind and prepare you for bed, especially chamomile tea. However, don’t forget to limit the fluid intake close to bedtime, as the last thing you want is to wake up in the middle of the night with full bladder in need of a toilet. Something like this certainly won’t help your sleep. 

 

Scientifically reviewed by CountingSheep.net Team

Written by

Tanya Hodgson

Tanya is a professional writer and editor with a B.A. in English from the University of Chicago. Tanya has been fighting insomnia for most of her adult life, and she knows firsthand how vital a good night’s rest can be for people with sleep problems.

The Methods and Products Used for Sleep Preparation

People can encounter many obstacles when trying to get enough good night’s sleep. Luckily, different methods and products can help you get quality sleep.

People can encounter many obstacles that consistently prevent them from getting a good night’s sleep, which affects their health, daily performance and overall quality of life. From emergencies that cost you a night or two of sleep or sleep disorders that regularly leave you feeling exhausted during the day and anxious during bedtime, to bad lifestyle habits that interfere with your circadian rhythm – it’s very easy to lose sleep for a variety of reasons.

Visiting a doctor is always the best course of action if you identify sleeping problems, no matter how they manifest (i.e., whether you have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, waking up on time, etc.). Regardless of what type of diagnostic method they opt for, the advice you get will often sound the same, at least partially. A lot of what causes sleeping problems lies in our daily life, and the habits that we adopt almost without noticing. Those habits could include eating unhealthy food, avoiding exercise, spending too much time in front of screens, staying up late to watch films, or any other similar thing. During your examination(s), you are asked questions about your lifestyle that help the doctor determine where you’re making mistakes.

One of the most common suggestions for dealing with sleeping problems of any kind (including those caused by sleep disorders) is to establish a bedtime routine or engage in sleep preparation. In this article, we will go over common sleep preparation practices and tips on how you can help yourself fall asleep without the use of risky prescription medication or over-the-counter solutions. Let’s get into it.

 

How It All Works

Sleep preparation is a flexible process in that you can customize your routine based on your personal preferences, medical history and a variety of other factors. The only common factor ends up being the time invested into this routine each day. Most doctors suggest starting a bedtime routine about an hour before you get into bed, but that’s only because people’s schedules usually don’t allow more. Ideally, you’d start unwinding around two hours before trying to fall asleep, and slowly remove sources of stimulation that keep you awake.

Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia works this way, too. The idea is that a good bedtime routine and some stimulus control helps you make a mental connection between your bed and sleep (and sex). If you can eliminate sleep-destroying habits in the evening and avoid using your bed other than for sleeping and sex, it can reduce your sleep onset latency without you even noticing. Sleep preparation often also comes down to creating a healthy sleep environment that keeps distractions away and improves things such as air circulation and the levels of lighting in the room. We will list off various things you can try to establish a bedtime routine that suits you specifically.

 

Natural Sleep Aids

If you’re afraid of prescription medication for sleep (and we don’t blame you, it comes with a variety of really unpleasant side-effects), there is a safer alternative you can try – natural sleep aids. Understanding natural sleep aids requires having a solid grasp on how your circadian rhythm works, so we’ll explain it briefly here. The circadian rhythm is maintained by a sort of biological master clock that’s located in your brain stem. This clock uses light receptors to tell the time of day to convince your body to start winding down for the night when the time comes. Many processes in your body depend on this rhythm, and things like appetite, blood sugar regulation, and libido are all easily connected to it. However, there are many ways to disturb your circadian rhythm, which throws your entire body off balance (figuratively) and causes potentially severe health concerns. Once your circadian rhythm is disrupted, it can be very hard to get it back on track without serious discipline (and often help).

For the purposes of sleep, the main process that is hurt by a disrupted rhythm is melatonin production. Melatonin is the hormone that forces you to fall asleep eventually, and its production can be crippled by things like alcohol consumption and excessive caffeine intake, among other factors. Natural sleep aids aim to improve your melatonin production, relieve anxiety and induce relaxation through ingredients such as tart cherry juice (which can and should be consumed on its own if you can find it near you), lemon balm extract and valerian root. Some products just give you a straight shot of melatonin directly, which helps you fall asleep quicker once the effect kicks in.

If you can’t afford these aids, you can rely on more accessible substances to improve your chances of falling asleep quickly. We’ve mentioned tart cherry juice, but milk is probably in your fridge right now, and it can be used as an improvised sleeping aid if you implement it as part of your bedtime routine.

 

Creating the Ideal Sleeping Environment

Environmental factors in your bedroom or outside your window have a huge influence on how well you can sleep during the night. For example, the difference between noisy traffic outside and perfect silence is massive in the context of falling or staying asleep. While this is the most expensive part of sleep preparation, every penny is worth making sure you can get enough rest to stay healthy and productive at work – appropriate bedroom accessories can “pay for themselves” through this benefit. The first step towards solving problems in your immediate sleeping environment is to identify them. Once you’re aware of what’s damaging your sleep, you can get products that solve those problems for you.

If you have to deal with noise while trying to sleep, no matter where it comes from (i.e., from other rooms or the outside), you want to invest in something that either reduces that noise or drowns it out. White noise machines or bedroom fans are popular options for many people, as we’re often more capable of relaxing when exposed to a consistent source of sound (usually a car engine, bedroom fan whirring, etc.). Keeping a bedroom fan active also helps improve air circulation, which is essential for healthy sleep. A stuffy room can single-handedly cause a headache for some people, so its effects on sleep should not be ignored – and since opening windows might expose your home to burglars, a fan could be the ideal solution.

Speaking of burglars, home security can play an indirect role in hurting your sleep prospects. Feeling like your home is never safe creates a lot of anxiety and stress, which can destroy your sleeping schedule. For this reason, it may be wise to invest in security cameras, door bolts, window bars and similar ways of keeping unwanted guests out. Being prepared for emergencies such as floods and fires can also contribute to a sense of safety and help you relax.

Blue light and electronics interfere with your biological clock by making it confused about the time of day. It is no coincidence that people who watch TV a lot or spend a ton of time in front of smartphones or computer screens tend to have poor sleep quality overall. If you can afford to do so (that is, when you’re not expecting an important call or alarm), turn off your smartphone during the night, or at least place it on the opposite side of the room. The same goes for any personal computers or TV monitors; everything should be turned off for at least an hour before you go to bed if you can help it.

 

Physical Well-Being and Relaxation

One of the questions you can expect to encounter when you visit a doctor and explain your sleeping problems is related to how much exercise you get. Exercise plays an important role in your body in multiple ways, from muscle development and immunity to improved hormone balance and relaxation during sleeping hours. No matter what’s causing your sleep problems (including a full-blown sleep disorder), the chances are that regular exercise is a great habit to pick up if you want to alleviate the problem. Make sure not to overwork yourself, as this can cause pain for as long as several days, which naturally keeps you from falling asleep easily, even with a top-quality mattress supporting your body. Additionally, avoid any intense exercises in the evening hours, and instead perform them in the morning or early afternoon to avoid putting stress on your body when it needs to unwind.

Exercise isn’t the only option, however. Planning your diet is equally important, as eating sugary, greasy or otherwise unhealthy food is harmful to your sleep onset latency and sleep quality in general. Above all, steer clear of alcohol and coffee in the evening hours – these two substances are listed as contributing factors to a massive number of sleep disorders and similar problems. A light meal in the evening is not a bad idea, as going to bed on an empty stomach doesn’t help you get good rest.

Relaxation techniques are an excellent way to improve your bedtime routine. These include different meditation techniques, breathing exercises, yoga routines, and similar activities. Don’t exert yourself too much, and focus on stretching and relieving pain and pressure from your body. Meditation can also train your mind to create a positive association with your bed, so you can avoid feeling bedtime anxiety. If you’re dealing with back pain, shoulder pain, neck pain or any similar problem, getting a massage is a great idea from time to time. Naturally, you should aim to avoid the pain before it can occur, so invest in a good mattress for your chosen sleeping position and avoid putting a lot of weight on your joints if you don’t have to.

A trip or two each week to the local sauna can do wonders for your body in many ways, and sleep quality is one of them. You don’t have to make it a daily thing, but make sure that you head in one or twice per week for decent results. The increased body heat starts to drop once you leave the sauna, and that effect pairs well with how your body naturally gets colder as it starts to switch to “sleep mode.” Some toxins and metals like mercury also vacate your body primarily through sweat, so a combination of healthy, planned exercise and sauna visits can keep you healthy and ready to doze off in the evening.

 

Scientifically reviewed by CountingSheep.net Team

Written by

Tamara Smith


The Ultimate Guide to Sleep Safety

One of the most often overlooked aspects of our daily life is home security and safety in general. Feeling safe is a critical prerequisite to our comfort and relaxation, which is why home safety is a huge part of being able to sleep healthily.

Life is full of distractions; whether it’s demanding work obligations, navigating your social life or pursuing a hobby, there are many activities and problems to concern yourself with. Our daily lives are so hectic that we regularly lose track of our basic needs and potentially serious problems at home. Most of the time, this negligence results in a bad diet or poorly organized daily routine. However, one of the most often overlooked aspects of our daily (and nightly) life is home security and safety in general . Feeling safe is one of the critical prerequisites to our comfort and relaxation, which is why home safety is such a huge part of being able to sleep healthily.

Sit down and try to think about how many potential injuries and burglaries are waiting to happen thanks to how you’ve organized your home and how much you’ve invested in safety measures. There are many ways you can improve the safety of your sleeping environment, and this article will include a variety of tips and methods you can follow. Keep in mind that every living space has its quirks and issues you may have to work through, so you may have to adapt the advice to your specific circumstances. Let’s get into it, shall we?

 

Tips and Tricks for Preventing Burglaries

Burglaries take up a huge portion of property crime, which often causes various sources to present burglary rates as a separate statistic. If you look it up yourself, you will find out that burglary rates are dropping across the United States. However, this doesn’t mean they’re a non-issue or a minor problem. Because of how unlikely it seems that you would be specifically targeted, people often ignore problems around the house that could give a potential thief an opening to loot your home when you’re not there (or worse, when you’re asleep).

Burglaries also pose a direct danger to anyone present, as the culprit may decide to resort to violence to escape the situation or directly threaten the homeowner or his family. The approach that carries the least amount of risk is always prevention – making sure no one can intrude in the first place. It can be achieved through a variety of methods and, while these methods cost money, any price is acceptable when it comes to making a safe sleeping environment for yourself (and your loved ones). It doesn’t hurt to get creative, as long as you don’t go overboard and create serious hazards that can injure your family or innocent passers-by. Here’s a list of tips:

30% of all burglars enter through an unlocked door or window. Remember to secure all exterior doors, not just your front door. Also, while leaving a window open in your bedroom during the night is often very healthy and soothing, you’re putting your home at increased risk. If the window is relatively small, install metal bars that prevent anyone from entering, or invest in window stops that let you open the window just enough to let air in without creating enough space for a potential intruder to squeeze through.

 

Sleepwalking and Hazards In Your Home

If you’ve been reading articles on this website in the past, you probably already know how troublesome certain sleep disorders can be. Whether it’s sleep apnea, bruxism or restless legs syndrome, there are a plethora of problems you could be facing while trying to get quality rest. For the purposes of home safety, however, we will look over a specific category of disorders – parasomnias. This group of disorders is characterized by abnormal behavior and movement during sleep. This behavior can range from teeth grinding (otherwise known as bruxism) all the way to sleepwalking, where the person moves around their home in a hybrid state of wakefulness and sleep.

Sleepwalking is what we’re going to focus on here, but remember that certain other disorders (parasomnias or sleep-related movement disorders) can be relevant as well. While sleepwalking itself isn’t harmful to the person in question, they put themselves at huge risk of injury by roaming “blindly” around their living space. If they encounter a set of stairs (especially ones leading down), sharp corners or slippery floors, they can easily fall and suffer serious harm (or worse). To prevent this type of accident, or at least minimize the impact of a potential fall, you should examine your house carefully:

 

Preparing For Emergencies

Depending on where you live, different kinds of emergencies and disasters will be more common. However, floods and fires can happen just about anywhere, so there is no excuse for not being prepared to quickly evacuate and stay safe. If your area is susceptible to a natural disaster, it can be hard to feel completely safe in your own home. There are a handful of measures you can take to prepare yourself for the worst.

First of all, be informed about potential emergencies. There are apps for Android and iOS that are specifically designed to alert you of incoming disasters, and it never hurts to tune into the news once per day. You can also contact the Red Cross in your local area to find out exactly what kind of disaster you can expect to see at some point in the future. The more you know, the smarter your decisions can be.

Additionally, prepare an emergency kit. Not only is a set of first aid supplies useful to have in general, but you also want to store canned food and similar resources for when trouble happens. For every person in the family, pack around 1 gallon of water, and store as much long-lasting food as you can comfortably afford. Prepare sets of spare keys and maps of your town so you can navigate in the dark or during floods. A multi-purpose tool like a swiss army knife also helps, as it can get you out of trouble in a pinch, and help open food cans and sort out other small issues.

A commonly overlooked part of an emergency kit is a set of documents belonging to each family member. From ID cards to medical histories to anything else you can think of, it is incredibly smart to have emergency information available at a moment’s notice. This information helps medical staff, law enforcement, emergency relief volunteers and similar groups help you in a way that is most suitable, especially when it comes to medication allergies.

Be aware of every escape route you have available at home. Whether you’re being threatened by a fire, flood or earthquake, it is crucial to know how you can safely and quickly exit your home to avoid accidents and injuries. Plan out routes for each room in your home, so that no matter where a person is, they know how to take care of themselves in case of emergencies.

Quick tip: If you’re worried about fires, make sure all your interior doors are closed. If you do this, fires spread slower, giving you more time to plan your escape and retrieve important items, as well as protect family members.

 

Moving to a New Town

If you have the time, money and opportunity (usually in regards to work), you may want to consider moving to one of the safest cities in the US. Avoiding natural disasters and seeking low crime rates is a smart approach to ensuring a high level of home security, even if indirectly. If you’re trying to avoid crime, you typically want to look away from large cities like Chicago or Las Vegas and towards smaller places like Thousand Oaks. Safe cities also tend to come with other benefits, such as well-funded schools, good job opportunities and well-maintained parks – however, be ready to suffer living expense increases, like the rent, and purchase prices for apartments and houses here can be a bit steep.

 

Scientifically reviewed by CountingSheep.net Team

Written by

Dusan

Dusan is a biologist, a science enthusiast and a huge nature lover. He loves to keep up to date with all the new research and write accurate science-based articles. When he’s not writing or reading, you can find him in the kitchen, trying out new delicious recipes; out in the wild, enjoying the nature or sleeping in his bed.

School Start Times and Sleep Patterns of Students

Sleeping well is essential for adolescents, as they are still growing and developing, and they should preferably get 9 hours each night. Unfortunately, with a lot of responsibilities and different activities, teens often choose to sacrifice sleep to get everything else done.

Adolescence is such a weird period in everybody’s life, and most of us, simply want to go through this period as fast as possible and become an adult. There are so many changes in a child’s life during this time, from hormones going wild, and getting more responsibilities, to changes in social dynamics, and finally gaining more freedom. Teens become more independent through the choice of after school activities, driving, and getting a part-time job to learn about fiscal responsibility. They also learn about critical thinking and peer pressure, and this period is essential for the further development of a child.

Sleeping well is essential for adolescents, as they are still growing and developing, and they should preferably get 9 hours each night. Unfortunately, with a lot of responsibilities and different activities, teens often choose to sacrifice sleep to get everything else done. Missing necessary rest on a daily basis leads to sleep deprivation that is just terrible for their health. It results in a weakened immune system, impaired memory, decreased learning ability and attention which ultimately leads to worse academic performance, harder time controlling emotions, and increased risk of mental disorders, such as anxiety and depression. To make things even worse, these mental disorders also have an additional impact on sleep, which leads to even shorter rest time per night. Because of all of this, adolescents need to pay special attention to their sleep habits, and researchers think that the best way to do this is to shift school starts a little later in the morning.

 

Sleep Deprivation and Adolescence

As much as 60% of teens report feeling fatigued during the day, and 15% have even fallen asleep during school. A growing body of evidence tells us that the reason for that is the early morning start, which is something we can change. Academic researchers agree that moving the school start to 8.30 am or later can bring many benefits. Unfortunately, 83% of middle and 93% of high schools start before 8.30 am.

Because of work, school, extracurricular activities, and other responsibilities, 90% of teenagers don’t get the recommended 9 hours of sleep — no wonder why they feel so exhausted. They also further compromise their rest by using electronics late at night. Screens emit blue light that suppresses the production of melatonin, a hormone that is essential for sleep, and basically tells our brain that it’s time to be active. Because of that, it is harder to fall asleep, and there is a higher risk of sleep deprivation.

Sleep deprivation is no joke, as it affects many aspects of our lives, including our cognitive performance. When we lack sleep, our ability to concentrate is impaired, it is harder to obtain and retain new information, and our problem-solving skills are way worse. All of these are much needed for excellent academic performance.

Our emotional well-being is affected by lack of sleep as well. Sleep deprived people are more likely to act irrational, make poor judgments, and have a harder time regulating their mood and temper. Mix that in with a combination of hormones going wild in teenagers, and the effects only get worse. It may cause them to have a hard time coping with the stresses of everyday life and school, and they might turn to alcohol, drugs, and nicotine abuse. Poor decision making can also make them think that it’s okay to drive when they are under the influence of alcohol, or when they are feeling too tired. Car accidents are the number one death cause among teenagers.

Beside affecting us mentally and emotionally, sleep deprivation also has physical consequences. When we don’t get enough sleep, our body’s production of ghrelin and leptin, two hormones responsible for our appetite, is affected. That makes us crave more sugary and fatty foods, and that brings us one step closer to weight gain and obesity. Chronic lack of sleep also increases our chances of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, even certain types of cancer.

 

Why Don’t They Go to Bed Earlier?

A logical step if you are constantly sleep deprived is to go to bed earlier. Unfortunately, it is not that easy. Teenagers need 9 hours of sleep, compared to 7 to 9 that is recommended for adults. Also, right around the adolescence, there is a natural shift in a body’s circadian rhythms. The production of melatonin starts later in the night compared to childhood, and it also stops later in the morning. Because of that, teenagers tend to go to sleep later and to sleep longer in the morning. This shift is also observed in other animal species during adolescence, so it is entirely normal behavior. Unfortunately, early school start makes them miss the needed sleep, and they just can’t go to bed earlier.

School dictates everything. Teens need to find time to squeeze in other extracurricular activities, jobs, socializing with friends, family obligations, hobbies, and other basic needs like eating and bathing. They also need to contribute to the household by doing chores, and even though they spend a big part of the day at school, they still have homework and extra assignments to do back at home. This brings a lot of stress, and they often willingly choose to compromise their sleep, so that they can have time for all these activities.

To complicate things even more, most teens are not aware of good sleep hygiene, and they often take part in behaviors that are damaging their sleep. The basics of sleeping well are:

If you have ever come in contact with a teenager, you know that these are the directions they simply don’t follow. They stay up late playing games, watching videos on Youtube, and texting with their friends. Prolonged exposure to bright screens trick their brains into thinking that it is daytime, so it makes it harder to fall asleep when they decide to lay down. They also drink a lot of energy drinks to keep up with responsibilities. Energy drinks and sodas are full of caffeine, and they are proven to disrupt sleep, especially if taken too close to bedtime.

 

Benefits of Later School Start Times

Current research shows that it can be very beneficial to move the school start time to 8.30 am or later. Generally, students spend that extra time sleeping, and it is significant for their well-being. Some of the benefits are:

Unfortunately, even with all of these proven benefits, parents don’t seem to understand the needs of their children. Only around 50% of parents are in favor of moving school start times.

 

Scientific Research Supporting Later School Starts

One study from 2018 looked at 375 students in Singapore, and how delayed sleep start affected them. Academic success is extremely important in Eastern Asian countries, so researchers were interested in how socially acceptable this delay would be, and how the students would behave. The school agreed to move the start 45 minutes later to determine short and long-term impact on students.

The findings showed that after one month, even though students went to sleep a little later, on average they spent 23.2 minutes more asleep. Nine months later, the effects were a bit smaller, but there was still a 10 minutes increase in sleeping time. Students also reported lower levels of daytime sleepiness and higher levels of emotional well-being at both instances.

The majority of students (89.1%), parents (75.6%), and teachers (67.6%) agreed that the later start times were better for students. It means that it is feasible to delay the school start, even in the culture that often chooses to sacrifice sleep to study more and get better academic performance.

A 2017 study was conducted to see how the delayed start times later than 8.30 am would affect student attendance and graduation rates. They monitored over 30,000 students from 29 different high schools located across seven different states. Interestingly, both the attendance and graduation rates significantly improved, giving the more reason for delaying school starts.

A comprehensive assessment of school starting times in Canada was done in 2016. Researchers wanted to see how this parameter correlated with the quantity of sleep the students were getting. They collected data from 362 schools in Canada, and they surveyed nearly 30,000 students aged 10 to 18. They found out that the average starting time was 8.43 am. And even though students slept for over 8 and a half hours on average on a school night, 60% still felt fatigued in the morning. For every 10 minute delay in starting time, students got 3.2 more minutes of sleep; they were 1.6% more likely to get sufficient sleep, and also 2.1% less likely to feel tired in the morning. As the students who were attending school later reported to get more sleep and feel well-rested in the morning, it just builds a larger case to why we should just quit torturing our kids with early morning wake-ups.

A study done in 2014 by the University of Minnesota, followed over 9,000 students from 8 different public schools. Their goal was to see how the later start time correlated academic performance, overall health, and well-being of students.

The results were not surprising, as the later start times enabled 60% of students to get at least 8 hours of sleep, which is a bare minimum for teenagers. Start of 8.35 am or later meant significantly improved academic performance. Students had higher grades in core subjects such as maths, science, English and social studies. They also performed better on state and national tests. Students’ attendance improved, as there are less sick days because of the better sleep quality, while their daytime fatigue decreased. Students who slept less than 8 hours per night, reported significantly higher symptoms of depression, anxiety, caffeine and substance use. Their grades and overall performance was also much lower. Another key finding is that when a school changed starting time from 7.35 to 8.55 am; there was a massive 70% decrease in teenage car crashes. Sleep-deprived kids were also observed to be more sedentary and prone to junk food, as exercise, eating healthy and sleeping well are all tied together.

A study of nearly 10,000 students from 2008 showed consistent results. Researchers analyzed the effects of one-hour delay on students and car crash accidents. They found out that the total sleep time of students increased by 12 to 36 minutes depending on the grade. The percentage of students getting 8 or more hours of rest risen from 37.5% to 50%, as did the number of kids having at least 9 hours (6.3% to 10.8%). Car crash rates were lower by 16.5%.

 

Is Changing School Start Times Too Complicated?

Getting sufficient sleep, better academic performance, being well-rested during the day, mood improvement, fewer signs of mental health disorders, lower car crash rates, there are just too many benefits to moving delaying school starts. But why aren’t we doing it?

The main concern that the officials have for this is the cost. They said it would just take too much money, with the most significant chunk going to the adaptation of bus schedules. Current schedules are fitted to high and elementary school needs, so changing this would probably mean that there would need to employ more drivers and rent more buses, which cost a lot. However, if it benefits our children so much, is it really important?

Few researchers have gone as far as predicting that we would economically have a lot of benefits from school delay. There would be far fewer car crashes, and the improved academic performance and better education would mean more economic gain. Not to mention that obesity, suicide, mental disorders, and other health issue rates would drop, which is all beneficial to the economy as well. Let’s cut out all the excuses and do what’s right for our children according to scientific research, and that is delaying school start to 8.30 am or later.

 

Scientifically reviewed by CountingSheep.net Team

Written by

Tamara Smith


How Sleep Affects Your Productivity

The lack of sleep has a negative impact on our productivity and ability to focus on daily tasks. It is very difficult to be productive when deprived of sleep.

Have you ever had to study for a difficult exam or solve a puzzle that was giving you lots of trouble? A common piece of advice people in your surroundings may offer is to “sleep on it.” While it may be easy to dismiss it all as superstition or vague advice that has little to no practical application, the truth is that your level of productivity can often depend on how much sleep you get the previous night, or during the week overall. The connection between sleep and productivity may not be clear to most people since they don’t understand how sleep affects your body and mind, and while they may be aware of the 8-hour sleep recommendation, they might not have any idea as to why that amount of rest is essential.

That’s where we come in. In this article, we aim to connect sleep and productivity by showing how fatigue can make you much less efficient at whatever you’re doing, as well as provide tips on how you can organize and maintain a strict, healthy sleep schedule that improves your daily performance in all aspects of life. Let’s dive right in, shall we?

 

The Connection Between Sleep and Productivity

There are at least a few logical claims we can make that most people can relate to or at least keep up with, even without any knowledge of how sleep works. As many as 50% of US residents report experiencing problems in their daily life (especially at work) as a consequence of sleep deprivation, even if it’s not a chronic issue. It shouldn’t come as a surprise, really – we associate long work hours with fatigue, exhaustion, and stress even without factoring in potentially inadequate rest. Unfortunately, most people don’t have to imagine how bad it gets when you’re sleep-deprived. Around the late 19th century, work shifts were getting reduced from 9 to 8 hours, as people came to realize that working for longer than 8 hours made workers inefficient, susceptible to accidents and generally exhausted.

Eight hours of work per day turns into 40 over the course of a work week. Now think about how many people you know that work more than that. A lot of working adults have an inadequate sleeping schedule and suffer the consequences of sleep deprivation and fatigue. A lot of fatigue symptoms and consequences are subtle and hard to notice by the person in question – but they can be crippling and potentially life-threatening under the right circumstances. For starters, your mood drops significantly – sleep-deprived people often display signs of irritability, and they’re much more prone to taking unnecessary risks. Your memory and information processing take a dip as well, making it harder to do a lot of office jobs. On top of that, your hand-eye coordination gets considerably worse, as does your awareness of your surroundings and the ability to stay focused. These issues are particularly threatening for people who drive or do jobs with inherent risk factors.

As a rule, sleep deprivation is a problem when the person in question sleeps for less than six hours the previous night. It has been determined that running on 6 hours of “gas” is almost the same as being sleep-deprived for a whole 24 hours in terms of performance and associated risks. However, it’s a common misconception that the number of hours is all there is to healthy sleep.

Think of it this way – have you ever slept for a combined total of 10 hours in one day and still felt tired and unfocused? Clearly just reaching a number isn’t what makes sleep restorative. The amount of time spent asleep (or sleep quantity) is only one side of the coin in this situation, and it’s equally as important to consider sleep quality (how efficient and healthy the sleep was).

Sleep architecture is a term most people don’t have a firm grasp on. For this majority, sleep stages and rapid eye movement are vague terms that have something to do with dreaming, but the full picture is key to understanding how sleep affects our productivity. Sleep architecture is the natural progression of sleep through specific stages. The order is light sleep, then deep sleep, and then finally REM sleep before looping back to light sleep. Each of these stages is characterized by specific repairs and chemical procedures that occur in your body. While you sleep, your brain orchestrates things like memory consolidation (primarily in light and REM sleep), muscle tissue repair, immune system maintenance, blood sugar regulation, and many other processes.

Because each stage has its purpose and benefits, it is important to cycle through them with as little interference as possible. Having your sleep interrupted reduces the amount of time you spend in deep and REM sleep. This problem is frequently called “fragmented sleep,” as it happens when someone wakes up multiple times per night. Fragmented sleep robs you of all the benefits that come with non-light sleep, making you incredibly inefficient the following day. Naturally, this affects your performance at work and even the economy overall (once you factor in how many working adults deal with sleep deprivation – sleep deprivation hurts our economy by around $411 billion each year). Students also have trouble learning things efficiently due to insufficient time spent in REM sleep. Athletes recover from muscle strain much slower if they regularly experience sleep-deprivation and fragmented sleep.

Then there’s the concept of our circadian rhythm. It is a biological rhythm managed and influenced by a “master clock” in our brain stem that uses light receptors to tell our body when it’s time to go to sleep through hormone production and secretion. A lot of our bodily processes are affected by our circadian rhythm, but this rhythm is incredibly easy to disrupt and throw off-balance by a quick series of bad sleep decisions or unfortunate events (such as workplace emergencies). Because our hormones control much more than when we sleep, a disrupted circadian rhythm can cripple us in many aspects of our daily life. It can be very hard to get your rhythm back on track if you have to deal with something like shift work or a sleep disorder.

 

Improve Productivity Through Better Sleep

There is no shortcut to healthy sleep. Bad sleeping habits are just another lifestyle situation that you have to approach strategically and with dedication, much like diets or exercise routines. Being disciplined enough to manage your sleep is not always easy, but it pays off in more ways than you can imagine. Here’s a list of tips you can work on to achieve better sleep, and thus increased productivity:

 

Scientifically reviewed by CountingSheep.net Team

Written by

Marijana

She would be a morning person if mornings started at noon. Art historian, taurus, coffee lover, traveler, F1 fan who hates to drive, and well experienced insomniac with one life goal, to sleep like a coala for up to 20 hours per day.

Sleep Deprivation As a Method of Torture

Keeping someone awake for days is a preferred way of torture by regimes who claim to respect human rights and international laws. It is also often used in police interrogations to get confessions.

Sleep deprivation can be tough and draining, but have you ever thought that it could be a somewhat efficient way of torture and interrogation? It seems that we always underestimate the effects of sleep deprivation on our health and mind, no matter how often we discuss its consequences. We are willing to stay up all night binge-watching, suffer the day after and be fine later, but it is hard to imagine the aftermath of such mental torture as forced deprivation of sleep is.

We differ two types of sleep deprivation, partial and total. Total one only occurs during some emergency cases, while partial one can be caused by, for example, shift working. Total sleep deprivation is not so common, and many things are still unknown about it, but it can appear as a consequence of interrogation and torture. It is harder to lie when you are mentally drained and tired, and interrogators know that; that is why they prefer inspecting their subjects while they are tired. But forced and severe sleep deprivation does not necessarily mean that someone will speak the truth just because they are in such condition because it can mess up their mental state and lead to many irrational statements.

When you think about many other ways of torture, sleep deprivation may even sound like a tame and mild way to break someone’s will, but when an expert does it, it can last for days and be extremely severe. Keeping someone awake for days leaves no visible or physical harms, only mental ones, and it is a preferred way of torture by regimes who claim to respect human rights and international laws. But, just because it is more “subtle,” it does not mean that it should be legal.

 

Is Sleep Deprivation Legal?

Police interrogations are never a pleasant experience, but whether you are guilty or not, be sure that the officers who are interrogating you will do anything they can to get at least a glimpse of your confession. The interrogation environment is their advantage, they keep their suspects for hours in rooms with bright lighting and without windows. They control when or if you will eat and drink, and most importantly, will you get a chance to sleep or not.

Studies have shown that sleep-deprived people are more likely to confess things that they did not do, in comparison to those who got enough sleep.

Although currently, the eighth amendment protects US citizens from unusual and cruel punishments, sleep deprivation is not an illegal form or interrogation. Most courts interpret this amendment in a way that it can only be applied after someone is already convicted. But, in 2014. United Nations published a report in which this way of interrogation was defined as torture, but that only refers to extreme cases of sleep deprivation that last up to 180 hours, which could hardly ever happen during any police interrogation.

The United Kingdom, for example, recently banned interrogation of suspects who did not have the opportunity to sleep at least eight hours in previous 24, mostly because a large number of cases with false confessions is being returned to courts. In the US, 25% of cases turned out to be wrongly prosecuted due to false confessions; those mistakes are later proven and corrected thanks to DNA evidence.

 

Sleep Deprivation As a Means of Brainwashing

One way of attempting to “brainwash” prisoners was sleep deprivation, and it was widely used during the Korean war, but the CIA also used it as a part of their experiments with mind control.

Brainwashing is considered a mind-controlling process or an act that tends to control the human mind using mostly some psychological techniques. Brainwashing should result in the subject’s reduced ability to think independently, it should control its attitudes, acts, and thoughts until it basically becomes a marionette. The concept and idea of brainwashing were conceived during the 1950s to explain how the Chinese government managed to force people to cooperate with them. Today is brainwashing widely discredited, but it remained a popular subject of many spy novels and related literature.

The term brainwashing comes from Mandarin word xi-nao, xi stands for the word wash, while nao is a brain, as simple as that. This term was first introduced to Americans thanks to the journalist Edward Hunter and his article from 1950. in Miami Daily News. In this article, he writes about how Mao Zedong and his Red Army used ancient techniques to convert Chinese people to mindless communists.

After the US soldiers confessed some shocking things, the American public was horrified, and it was hard to find a reasonable explanation for their statements expect for brainwashing. That is when the idea of mind control blossomed in all fields of pop culture with movies such as The Manchurian Candidate and many others which featured brainwashing of POWs. It quickly became the subject of books, articles and even the American Psychiatric Association gave it credit, including brainwashing among dissociative disorders. So, did Chinese communists manage to find a way to control minds and free will? Of course, they did not.  

Many tried explaining the brainwashing process as some mysterious practice that could not be understood, but to scientists who were working on the case of the American POWs when they got back from Korea, it was pretty clear that the soldiers were tortured. One of the psychiatrists who worked with veterans reported the main criteria for brainwashing or thought reform as it was referred to by Mao Zedong. The process of brainwashing trapped American soldiers in Korean camps included deprivation of sleep and food, forced standing, exposure to communist propaganda and solitaries.

 

Sleep Deprivation Through History

It appears that people even centuries ago knew about the effects of sleep loss on mental health, and used it as a technique of torture and investigation. Some groups refuse to acknowledge sleep deprivation as a method of torture, but instead, they call it enhanced interrogation technique. However, extreme sleep deprivation can cause hallucinations, schizophrenia, and psychosis which can lead to wrong statements and false confessions.

Considering what we all know today, we can only assume how many people were falsely accused due to something they said while they were severely sleep deprived. So now we are going to go back through history to see how forced sleep deprivation was used as a form of torture in a few known cases.

Witch Hunting in 16th Century Scotland

Back in the notorious times of witch hunting, women who were accused of witchcraft and sorcery were hunted nationwide, captured and judged. Before people could convict them, they needed a confession from those women. To get anything that could be used against them, people tortured them by sleep depriving them for days until they begin to hallucinate. Everything that they did or said during those hallucinations or psychotic episode was considered as their confession and usually used against them as proof that they were practicing witchcraft. It sounds ridiculous from today’s point of view, but back in the days’ people were led by mass hysteria, ignorance, rumors, fear, and panic.

Japanese War Camps

There were around 175 war camps in Japan, but many more in countries that were occupied by Japan such as Thailand, China, Hong Kong, and Korea, in them civilians were mixed with military personnel (POW).

It is estimated that during the Second World War around 140.000 of military personnel were captivated since it was believed that they know some critical information. During their interrogations, many different ways of torture were used including sleep deprivation, blindfolding, meal restrictions, etc.

Apartheid in South Africa

The racial segregation movement known as Apartheid began in 1948. in South Africa and was abandoned in 1994. A famous case of sleep deprivation included a psychotherapist John Schlapobersky who was tortured in this way during the 1960s and kept awake for a whole week. He reported having hallucinations after only two nights, and after the third one, he started dreaming awake, which can be considered as a form of psychosis. Among other things, he described feeling distortion of people, time and place.

British Army

One of the most famous Britain’s POW facilities during the second world war was London Cage, run by the PWIS, prisoners of the war interrogation system. There were nine cages like that across Scotland and Southern England.

In 1971. British army performed an operation called Demetrius when 350 people were arrested because they were suspected of being involved with the Irish republican army. Prisoners reported that they were deprived of sleep, beaten, starved and abused.

Sleep deprivation was recognized as one of the five illegal interrogation methods used by the British army. Other four included hooding, wall-standing, drink and food deprivation and subjection to noise.

US Military

Before 2009. sleep deprivation was not considered for an illegal form of torture, and allegedly the US military used sleep deprivation to torture their prisoners. It was regarded as a non-physical way of torture, but although it does not leave any physical traces of harm, the United Nations (UN) still look at it as a way of torture because their definition of torture implies both, physical and mental pain or suffering.  

 

Effects of Long-Term Sleep Deprivation

 

Scientifically reviewed by CountingSheep.net Team

Written by

Marijana

She would be a morning person if mornings started at noon. Art historian, taurus, coffee lover, traveler, F1 fan who hates to drive, and well experienced insomniac with one life goal, to sleep like a coala for up to 20 hours per day.

How Commuting Affects Sleep

Commuting is cutting off a significant part of our day, and it can be a very stressful, boring and exhausting experience that can affect our health and sleep.

It seems that today it does not matter if we live in a big city or the countryside, because it looks like it is almost impossible to avoid the daily commute.

In cities it appears that we have everything just around the corner, but when your job or school is in one part of your town, you live in second, your boyfriend in third and you take yoga classes or whatever in some other area, commute becomes an important thing that takes quite some time. And people who live in the countryside know it well too, whether they want to supply themselves with groceries, go to work or drive their kids to school, they also spend a significant amount of their time in transportation.

Commuting is cutting off a significant part of our day, and it can be a very stressful, boring and exhausting experience that can affect our health and sleep. Longer commute time has been connected to sleep deprivation, especially in cities that have bad public transit systems. Americans already have a huge problem with sleep deprivation since the number of people who sleep less than 7 hours is continually rising. With that in mind, it seems that workers who commute longer sleep less in order to try and get everywhere on time.

 

How Long Do We Commute?

For example, if you work from 9 to 5, you are going to leave your house at least half an hour earlier, if you are lucky enough and live somewhat close to your job so you can walk or drive quickly to it. Many people travel longer to work, if they catch rush hour in the morning, or later in the afternoon when the majority is going back home from work, those 8 hours of work time can quickly turn into 10 hours, or more, all together with commuting. It can be somewhat more comfortable if you are sitting in your car, listening to your favorite radio station or music, but people who have to use subways or buses often do not have that luxury even to sit. Except for a few lucky ones, most people have no other choice than to stand and squeeze with others. People also often have to combine two or more means of transportation, whether they travel from suburbs or a different city, and that all adds up to that time we spend at work, because we commute mostly for our work, and we cannot do many other productive things while commuting.

If we count that we work 40 hours per week, that means that we spend a quarter of our week at work, without counting in the commute time. According to the newest data released by US American Community Survey, the average American will spend 26 minutes while commuting to work in one way, so that is approximately one hour per day, and that number has only grown during the past decade. Twenty-six minutes in one way does not sound so bad, but if you do that five days a week, for 52 weeks in a year, that is around 9 and a half days wasted in traffic each year. The duration of one average holiday we spent commuting each year, but at the moment for the majority it is impossible to avoid that.

Long distance commuting delivered a category of people called mega-commuters, which refers to people who travel 90 minutes or more in one way, only 3% of Americans fall into this group which spends at least three hours commuting each day.

All means of transportation can be bad for our sleep, but researches have shown that people who commute using public transit are suffering more from it. Those commuting by bus are feeling the most negative impact since they tend to develop depression and anxiety.

 

Longer Commute = Shorter Sleep?

As commuting became a part of our everyday life, it also became one of the things that cause our sleep deprivation. A study based on the data collected from the American Time Use survey showed that each minute of commuting means 0.2205-minute less of sleep time. Another study examined the sleep habits of commuters who use Long Island railway transit. Questionnaires were left at each station and researchers collected answers from 21.000 people during the six consecutive weekdays. They came to the conclusion that longer commute hinders people’s ability to get enough sleep each night. According to their results, people who commuted longer than 75 minutes were sleeping for 97 minutes longer during the weekend than on weekdays, they also napped more often during their commute in comparison to those who needed 45 minutes or less to get to work.

The US Census publishes data about commute times for each state every five years. Those rates were combined with CDC’s data on sleep deprivation for every country in an attempt to find a correlation between the lack of sleep and commute time. It is considered that around 35.2% of Americans are sleep-deprived, while the average commute time is 26 minutes in one way. When the numbers are compared on the state level, there is a clear connection between those two, states that are on the top of sleep-deprived countries are also the ones with the longest commutes, such as Hawaii, New York, Maryland, and Georgia.

 

States with longest commute times Sleep deprived states
Maryland, 32 minutes Hawaii, 43.9%
New York, 31.6 minutes Kentucky, 39.7%
New Jersey, 30.4 minutes Maryland, 38.9%
Massachusetts, 28 minutes Alabama, 38.8%
Illinois, 28 minutes Georgia, 38.7%
Virginia, 27.7 minutes Michigan, 38.7%
California, 27.2 minutes South Carolina, 38.5%
Georgia, 27 minutes Indiana, 38.5%
New Hampshire, 26.3 minutes New York, 38.4%
Hawaii, 26 minutes West Virginia, 38,4%

 

Comparison of states that have the shortest average commute distance to work and the lower percentage of the sleep-deprived population also confirms this connection. Some of those states are Nebraska, South Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Iowa, and Kansas, their citizens are getting enough sleep without wasting too much of their time on the commute.

When it comes to the battle of the different cities in the US, none is ideal in terms of commute and sleep, but when the numbers got compared, some of them stood out. The Brooking Institution did the review of quality of public transit which was then compared to CDC’s data on sleep deprivation in top 500 states in the US to see how the best and worst cities for the commute in public transit correlated with the worst and best cities for sleep. The criteria used for this survey included the number of available jobs within the 90 minutes predicted for the commute and the number of people who live within 0.75 miles of a bus stop or any station.

The main question was, how convenient and accessible it is to use public transit in certain cities. As it was expected, there is not a city that has public transportation available to each one of its residents, and the same is with sleep since over one-third of the Americans are getting less than 7 hours of sleep each night.

Some of the cities that have the worst public transit also have the above average percentage of sleep-deprived people. The average national sleep deprivation among Americans is now 35.2%, and it keeps rising, so take a look at this chart below to see which cities are the worst for sleep and commute. For example, residents of Palm Bay, Florida, are more sleep deprived than the average citizen of the US, they have a small percentage of jobs that are accessible with public transit which means that they need to wait longer just to be able to board on.

 

City Sleep deprivation Public transit coverage Job access
Palm Bay 39.5% 64.1% 7.4%
Knoxville 39% 28% 25%
Augusta 41.1% 30.2% 16.4%
Youngstown 46% 36.3% 14.2%
Riverside 38% 77.3% 8%

 

On the other hand, cities with higher coverage of public transit such as San Jose, Fresno, Salt Lake City or Tucson, have a below the average level of sleep-deprived population. For example, 90% of people who live in Salt Lake City live near the station or stop of some public transit, and they have 58.9% of jobs accessible within the 90 minutes. Their average commute time is below average at 22.5 minutes while the wait time during the rush hour is bearable 8.5 minutes. Sleep deprivation is also below the national average at 32%, which is not significantly lower but it is an improvement.

 

Effects of Commuting

Commuting is one of those annoying aspects of our modern and urban lives, we want to make it everywhere, but in order to get somewhere we have to commute, sometimes more than once in a day, sometimes longer than predicted, which all affects our daily to-do schedule. Besides sleep deprivation, here are some main negative impacts of commuting on our life.

 

Napping Commuters

Many people find the commute necessary but not so pleasant experience, and it is hard for them to relax enough to fall asleep at a public place, surrounded by strangers. On the other hand, some people sleep in a sitting position with no problem in subways, trains, buses, without worrying too much about missing their stop. But, how is it possible that most of them wake up just on time when they need to get out?

It is somewhat similar to setting an alarm clock; once we set it, our brain gets prepared to wake up at a particular time each day. If we regularly commute within a specific time-based schedule, it will become a habit for our body and our internal clock will get used to it if we repeat it each day at the same time, it will become a routine. Another reason can be the fact that although we are napping, we still can partially hear the station announcements because our brain is not completely turned off during those naps since we tend to wake up often for a few seconds.

If this is not something that is working for you, and you have slept over your stop, it could be because you have a deep sleep or your body is not so used to it, or that you are not repeating often enough that it can become a pattern. But there is no reason to worry, snoozing your stop is also one way of training yourself to wake up at a certain time. If not, you can always set the alarm on your smartphone approximately three to five minutes before predicted time for your stop.