The Sleep Revolution

Sleep revolution

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Sleep revolutionAre you having trouble getting enough sleep at night? If so you are by no means alone!

A study done by Massey University’s Sleep/Wake Centre showed that more than a third of New Zealanders felt they did not get enough sleep.

In America sleep deprivation has escalated into a crisis says Arianna Huffington, the co-founder, president and editor in chief of the Huffington Post.

Over 60 percent of Americans are sleep deprived. She was once one of them. After burning the midnight oil for far too many weeks she collapsed at work from exhaustion and was diagnosed with burnout. After this first-hand experience of the harm sleep deprivation can do she went on to write The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time to persuade America and the rest of the world that:

“It’s time to stop being sleep deprived, to meet the crisis and join the sleep revolution where sleep is once more accorded the importance it deserves for our health and wellbeing and we all make the effort to get a good night’s sleep”.

In The Sleep Revolution she has thoroughly researched all the historical, cultural and scientific aspects of sleep. She traces the historical events which led to overwork becoming Post-war America’s most dangerous status symbol. And describes how modern technology and a crazy desire by people to be connected at all hours of the night and day has become a further serious impediment to a good night’s sleep.

In the Science of Sleep chapter what happens when we sleep and dream and how this is profoundly intertwined with our brain health is explained. She cites scientifically based evidence which shows that without a good night’s sleep our physical, emotional, and mental health and performance at work will suffer, and how sleep deprivation is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, strokes, diabetes, obesity and possibly Alzheimer’s.

The second part of the book is full of practical advice on how to sleep better e.g. banishing all tech devices from your bedroom at least 30 minutes before turning off the light, not having too high a temperature in your bedroom, avoiding spicy foods, alcohol and caffeine well before bedtime, practising mindfulness, and making sure you exercise regularly. Links to some guided meditations are included.

Acupressure, herbs like Lavender and Valerian root and essential oils can help. But Arianna is strongly against sleeping pills (except briefly to help people to cope after a major event like a death in the family). Sleeping pills are being prescribed far too often. In the USA more than 55 million prescriptions for sleeping pills were written in 2014 with sales topping $1 billion. And not only do they fail to solve the problem but there are can be some serious side effects about which she tells some horrendous stories.

A quality mattress may help. There is a list of some of the latest models such as the Sleep Numbers’ smart mattress which has interior sensors to track your sleep, gives you a daily score from 1-100 that includes how much restful time you spend in bed, along with your heart and breathing rates. (But would you really want a mattress which is tracking you as you sleep?)

Some hotels too, in various parts of the world are taking steps to help their guests get the best sleep possible by providing such services as special soundproofing, aromatherapy, and heat regulating mattresses.

The Sleep Revolution is an interesting and informative read for those who are sleep deprived. Her many self-help techniques are certainly worth a try and will be found useful by many.

One reservation I do have is that it does dwell strongly on some of the serious effects of sleep deprivation. But the possible link of sleep deprivation to Alzheimer’s which she mentions is only based on a small amount of research and may therefore not necessarily be conclusive.

Many older people find it difficult to get a good night’s sleep and she does not fully explore why this might be. Some may find that, despite trying out all of the techniques and remedies she has provided, sleep is still elusive. If they are otherwise in good health (and have had this checked out by their doctor) maybe they should just accept that this is normal for them and not become overly worried about possible adverse effects.

Title: The Sleep Revolution Author: Arianna Huffington Imprint: WH Allen RRP: $38.00

By Lyn Potter. Read more here.