Pillow Talk: Sandman/Sandwoman Holistic Sleep Strategies
Have you tried to buy a new pillow recently? The possibilities are utterly mind-blowing, almost as complex and chaotic as casually choosing a kombucha flavor amid the dizzying array of options. While today’s blog won’t dissect the best pillow types and styles to accommodate your noggin or debate Zayn Malik’s One Direction musical departure, we’ll pay homage to Zayn’s “Pillow Talk,” as we explore some easy sleep strategies to conjure the Sandman or Sandwoman into your life. Sleep is one of those underrated self-care essentials, so we’ll briefly summarize why you need it, without getting too medical mumbo jumbo on you, and overview what happens when you’re literally running on empty. Lastly, we’ll offer some sensational strategies to help you to slumber more sweetly. Ready to rock with Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” metaphorically, since that jam is definitely not Zen-inducing. However, it’s a great way to pump you up for holistic health today.
First, let’s spill some “Pillow Talk” why you need sleep to properly manage, proactively maintain, and better balance your mind, body, and spirit. While we likely know the 7-8 hours ballpark dose is recommended nightly, we as adults tend to shun and trivialize sleep. In turn, we struggle and suffer through life pathetically, dangerously, and mindlessly like zombies. Sleep offers physical, psychological, spiritual, educational/academic, socioemotional, behavioral, sexual benefits. I’d also add economical to my brainstorming list, if we’re truly counting sheep. As a mega sleep-deprived mother of a preschooler and toddler, I’ve personally confused a fifty dollar bill with a five, while attempting to purchase a meager chai latte last week and urging the barista to keep the change-OMG! Let’s briefly review some key reasons why “rest is best” concerning sleep essentials:
· Weight Watcher: Sleep is (literally) a weighty prerequisite, as Yang, Schnepp, & Tucker (2019) specifically herald sleep for keeping our hunger in check and to decrease food cravings in women (https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/11/3/663). Put down those dreadful donuts, super-sized fries and pies, and read more healthfully with us!
· Fountain of Youth: Similar to weight management, sleep also regulates our internal and external wellness and youthfulness overall. Forgo those funky fad diets, greasy, goopy serums, and expensive injections. Opt instead to cheaply and simply reap sleep’s fountain of youth perks. Ready to rival Demi Moore, Christie Brinkley, Joe Manganiello, Halle Berry, and Sofia Vergara?
· GPS for PMS: In addition to soothing PMS symptoms, sleep also operates as a female coping mechanism during pregnancy, struggles with fertility, fanning the flames of menopause and perimenopause, etc.
· Moody Blues: Feeling like a girl or guy on fire lately with partners, colleagues, pets, family members? Don’t rage against the machine. Hit the sound machine for some serene nature vibes!
Sleepless in Seattle Effects: What Happens When You’re Running on Empty?
Yes, the zombie metaphor is real: if you skip on sleep, you’re basically running on empty! Lack of the right kind of sleep can have detrimental long-term impacts on the brain since sleep purges all biochemical junk in our brains that exacerbate junk in our trunks holistically. For this reason, lack of sleep can manifest into these stranger danger areas:
· Insane in the Membrane: Poor sleep can harm brain health, hence increasing the likelihood of neurodegenerative diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer's, due to the close relationship between sleep and emotional brain function (Sukel, 2019). Even one night of skipping sleep can damper our working memory, creativity, and mental health. Fire up those lullabies!
· Rhythm Is Gonna Get You: Remember Gloria Estefan’s huge hit, as sleep regulates our circadian rhythms and hormones. Like a chain reaction, circadian rhythms are controlled by our body’s biological clock that helps to generate melatonin. If our circadian rhythms are dazed and confused, we can then experience extreme body temperature fluctuations, depression, impaired urine production, changes in blood pressure, poor hand-eye coordination, and so on.
· Grumpy Cats: Graves (2019) in “Beyond Willpower” from Prevention reiterates how sleep quality and quantity directly help to determine who we are today as far as our demeanor, our choices and how others perceive us (34). Insomnia is a grumpy cat, not the cat’s meow!
· The Biggest Loser: Lack of sleep also increases our risks for obesity, heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes. Be a weight managing winner!
Pillow Talk Strategies to Slumber More Soundly and Sweetly:
Lastly, unwind with some “rest is best” tips:
· Phone Fast: Take a fast from the phone and all digital/electronic devices at least one to two hours before bedtime. Halton (2019) recommends a tech disconnect for all adults, but especially parents, to reduce impaired child development, behavioral problems, distracted parenting, accidents, and others. Opt instead for family arts and crafts, scrapbooking, stories, puzzles, board games, and other classics.
· GI Joe and Jane: Get a bit military as you set and adhere to sleep schedules. Hosford (2019) reiterates how “You Are How You Sleep,” we should keep a consistent sleep schedule to set the body’s internal clock. Avoid sleeping in and changing bedtimes too erratically.
· Dancing in the Dark: Create a sleep-friendly bedroom environment that’s dark, calm, cool, quiet, comfortable and gadget-free. Great John Legend song title, too!
· Light It Up: Expose yourself to natural morning and /or daytime light by setting a goal to get at least 30 minutes daily of natural vitamin D. If you’re a country crooner, you know that Luke Bryant song well!
· Be Savvy about Supplements and Medications: Check yourself, before you wreck yourself by perusing all labels on all herbal remedies, supplements, prescription, medications, even OTCs to ensure that they aren’t power-packed with caffeine and other stimulants.
· The Princess and the Pea: Remember that odd childhood book? Well, forget about the literary lingo and upgrade to a new mattress every 1.5—2 Years, as advised by the American Sleep Association. Aim to replace polyester and down-fill pillows after 3-4 years. Memory foam ones last longer and can be kept for twice as long as traditional pillows. Pillow talk?
· Air Supply: Nope, not the band. Sleep experts advocate having a steady and fresh air supply when you’re prepping for sleep. Check your ventilation as feeling stuffy and stale air will hinder sleep. Franklin (2018) cautions how improper air supply will not only spike your nasal congestion, but it also can worsen insomnia. It’s best to crack open your window consistently for 15 minutes during the day or add a purifying plant like a peace lily to generate more air supply. Plants are also great BFFs because they don’t cause any drama!
· Wine and Chocolate Checks: Steer clear of caffeinated and boozy eating and drinking habits right before bed, unless you want a “No Sleep Till Brooklyn” soundtrack of insomnia. Forgo cookies, candies, chocolates, and even scale down any perky peppermint toothpaste mouthwashes right before bedtime, if these products contain alcohol. Contrary to the nightcap myths, alcohol can disrupt deep, restorative sleep, as it often wakes you up repeatedly. Experts suggest taking your last sacred sips on a Wine Down Wednesdays at least two hours before hitting the sack.
· Sweet Spot: You don’t have to be a meteorologist or math major to remember that the best sleep warrants a sweet spot of 65 degrees F, according to experts at the National Sleep Foundation (KRIEGER, 2017). Think about the Katy Perry “Hot n Cold” song before dodging all sheets entirely or cocooning yourself in endless layers of thick flannel. Strive to find that delicate balance. If you’re too hot, your body will struggle to cool down. In contrast, if you're a sweaty Teddy, then you're more prone to waking up more frequently. Find your sweet spot!
· Food Friends: Findings from “Go Natural in 90 Days: Part 3” (2018) strongly encourage us to crunch on nuts and split some bananas to beat insomnia. Dieticians particularly rave about pistachio’s power based on their bombardment of B6, which jump-starts our serotonin; bananas boost magnesium and potassium that act as natural muscle relaxers.
In addition, whether you’re a good seed or a bad seed as far as personality type, we can all sleep more soundly if we kick it with kiwis for their serotonin surges!
· Breathe: Make Pink Floyd proud as you engage in deep belly breathing to prep for sleep. Rest with mindfulness as you practice “deep breathing (in through the nose, out through the mouth) for a couple of minutes” ((https://neworleanscitybusiness.com/blog/2015/09/08/do-you-work-at-a-desk-take-care-of-yourself/)). Get your Zen on by also adding some visualization exercises. Envision yourself in a calm setting that soothes all your senses. Bali or St. Lucia are typically the images that I conjure!
OM Out: Get your Zen on with meditation. Based on a 2019 study from Harvard Health Letter, meditation not only improved stress management but also helped to boost sleep, increased immunity, help with pain reduction, lower blood pressure and heart rates, etc. (p. 1). Just OM out!
Chia-Lun Yang, Jerry Schnepp, & Robin M. Tucker. (2019). Increased Hunger, Food Cravings, Food Reward, and Portion Size Selection after Sleep Curtailment in Women Without Obesity. Nutrients, (3), 663. Retrieved from https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/11/3/663
CityBusiness Guest Perspective. (n.d.). Do you work at a desk? Take care of yourself. New Orleans CityBusiness (LA). Retrieved from https://neworleanscitybusiness.com/blog/2015/09/08/do-you-work-at-a-desk-take-care-of-yourself/
Franklin, A. (2018). The ABC’s of Catching Z’s. Health, 32(6), 63–68.
Go Natural in 90 Days: Part 3. (2018). Better Nutrition, 80(8), 34–40.
GRAVES, G. (2019). BEYOND WILLPOWER. (cover story). Prevention, 71(2), 36–41.
HALTON, C. (2019). The Tech Disconnect. Today’s Parent, 36(1), 27.
Hosford, B. (2019). You Are How You Sleep. IDEA Fitness Journal, 16(4), 34–43.
KRIEGER, L. (2017). BETTER SLEEP A to Z. Good Housekeeping, 264(3), 107–112.
Sukel, K. (2019). How to nurture your mind. New Scientist, 241(3214), 1.
Spring cleaning: Why more people are uncluttering the mind for better health. (2019). Harvard Health Letter, 44(5), 1–7. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/spring-cleaning-why-more-people-are-uncluttering-the-mind-for-better-health