2017 - The Year of Sleep

September 14, 2017

(opinion piece)

Sleep has been quite the buzzword this year. Sleep, essential to physical and mental health, has become trendy as ‘Wellness’ has become trendy (ughhh…am I the only one getting sick of the word ‘wellness’?) It’s not a bad thing! People, especially career and business-minded people, used to wear sleepless nights like a badge of honour. Now, we’re recognizing health, wellness, and consequentially, sleep, as integral to success. We’re starting to better understand how sleep (or lack of sleep) affects mood, memory, relationships, productivity, physical health, and all sort of other measures. Sleep is cool. Cool like cold-pressed juice and cauliflower (bye, kale!) and meditation are cool. We’re obsessed with getting better sleep.

I’ve suffered from poor quality sleep and bouts of insomnia my whole life. I’m not sure I know what it feels like to wake up rested. So naturally, I’ve been tuning into the conversations about sleep hoping to learn more. I’ve learned about the dangers of not getting enough sleep which range from general unhappiness to impaired driving to increased risk for what seems like every known illness and disease. I’ve discovered that there are many fruits, vegetables and other foods that promote good sleep. Eating or drinking too close to bed time can impair sleep though. Sleep apps, trackers, and other sleep tech are all the rage, but their efficacy is not convincing. Using technology before bed is bad. Setting a regular bed time and waking time is good. Don’t drink coffee, don’t drink alcohol, try a weighted blanket. ‘Have you tried melatonin?’ ‘Melatonin is dangerous if you take it too often!’ ‘I use Calm Supremacy and I love it.’ ‘Valerian. Valerian. Valerian.’ Sleep in cold temperatures. Make sure you have the right mattress! Try sleeping alone. Exercise daily, but not at night. Meditate and do breathing exercises before bed. Tart cherry juice! Watch your sugar. Sleep naked and in total darkness. Have plants in your room. Try white noise. Paint your room a calming colour. Don’t sleep with your pets. Actually, wait! Pets can improve your quality of sleep. Don’t nap! Oh, hang on! Napping might actually be ok. Keep a journal next to your bed. Have a bath, try aromatherapy, spend time outside, STRETCH!!!

Is our sleep better in 2017? Are we better off armed with all of this information? I’m not sure that I am. Worrying about the future of my physical and mental health and stressing about the coffee I had at 2pm or the 15 minute snooze I took this morning or the exercise I didn’t do is keeping me up at night. Maybe the key to a good night’s sleep is not to overthink it.




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