A Prescription for Better Sleep

Sleep is vital to our overall health and daily function. So, are you getting enough sleep, and how can you improve your habits?

Are you getting enough sleep?

“Sleep is the most underrated health habit,” states Dr. Michael Roizen, chief wellness officer of the Cleveland Clinic.

Sleep is one of the most important things we can do for our bodies, but today, we have found ways to consistently foil our ability to take advantage of this much needed rest. For example, consuming too much digital light right before bed or in bed is distracting and sends the signal to our brains that we should still be awake, not starting to wind down and begin preparation to dive into REM sleep.

When we do sleep, we’re not getting enough of it. Arianna Huffington has become a huge advocate for getting better and more sleep. In her book “Thrive,” she writes, “I once had dinner with a man who bragged to me that he’d gotten only four hours of sleep the night before. I resisted the temptation to tell him that the dinner would have been a lot more interesting if he had gotten five.”

We do not perform at our best when we are exhausted and lacking sleep.

SLEEP QUESTION

Here is a single-question test to see if you are getting enough sleep. Ready? When is the last time you woke up naturally, before your alarm on a work/school/rehearsal day and felt refreshed and truly awake? If your answer ranges from “never” to “not for several years” to “I don’t remember,” then it is time to write yourself a prescription for better sleep.

SIMPLE STRATEGIES

Here are some ways to help you succeed in getting a better night’s sleep. First things first, make an appointment to go to sleep. Figure out when you need to wake up in the morning and go back seven to eight hours. If this seems like a mountain of a task, just try going to sleep 30 minutes earlier than you do typically. Continue this increase of 30 minutes each week until you are at seven to eight hours of sleep per night.

If you use your phone as an alarm clock, consider getting an actual alarm clock, so that you can charge your phone out of arm’s reach. That way, you can avoid the temptation to reach over and check your email at 3 a.m. when you get up to use the bathroom.

POSITIVE SIDE EFFECTS

You may start to notice changes, like feeling more alert and even more muscle tone—sleeping more actually contributes to building muscle mass. Additionally, when looking at brain scans, someone who gets more sleep has more dense brain matter and can actually help stave off signs of aging, such as memory loss, by contributing to the density of the frontal lobes.

Getting more sleep is one thing you can add to your daily routine, and you don’t need to check with your doctor about it because there are no bad side effects. In fact, you might be able to see a little less of your doctor if you are getting a few more hours of shut-eye.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

After dancing since the age of 3, Haley Greenwald-Gonella thought it was time to try a new art. In elementary school, she began playing the flute and was in the marching band in middle school and for the first two years of high school. She also played the bassoon during concert season. Dance drew Haley back while in high school.

She graduated from the University of California, Irvine, with degrees in dance and English. She recently graduated from the University of Southern California with a master’s degree in Specialized Journalism (The Arts).

Haley is also a certified registered yoga teacher with Yoga Alliance. She draws upon her dance and yoga training when it comes to all things fitness and the arts.

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