In part 6 of the 50,000 Mile Tuneup Series, we’re taking a look at our brakes–which we bet you can guess is a metaphor for sleep.
We probably don’t need to remind you that skimping on sleep can contribute to an increased appetite, increased levels of stress (cortisol), a decrease in energy to do the things you enjoy, and so on. We’re also not going to spend time reviewing basic sleep hygiene or supplements (most with mixed evidence) that you can find in abundance when you search for “better sleep” online.
Instead, we’re going to focus on our sleep mindset, and how that can be key to optimizing our sleep habits.
- Good sleep is very important for your health and well-being, but “good sleep” can look different for different people, and even for the same people at different times in life.
- Even if you are forced to follow a schedule that is not ideal for you, keeping a consistent sleep/wake schedule leads to better sleep and less sleep anxiety. Which leads to more energy and better decision making during the day.
- Although many factors can get in the way of sleep, feeling stressed and anxious about not sleeping may be the most insidious–which is why CBT has become one of the most effective therapies for insomnia
- Good sleep hygiene is important but when it isn’t enough to resolve sleep issues, a sleep medicine specialist can help.
If you feel your sleep routine needs a tune-up, a sleep diary can help increase your awareness of your sleep patterns, understand how they affect you, and identify things that may be undermining your sleep.
Step 1: Keep a sleep diary (see worksheet)
Step 2: Once you’ve gathered some data, consider the following questions :
- Do I feel well-rested when I wake up?
- Do I feel drowsy during the day?
- Am I spending significant time lying in bed without being able to fall asleep?
- Is my sleep schedule consistent or does it fluctuate?
- Am I taking naps that are too long or too late in the day that could be affecting my nighttime sleep?
- Is my sleep disrupted in the night? If so, is there any pattern in the diary that might explain why?
- Is my use of alcohol, caffeine, and/or medications affecting my sleep time or sleep quality?
- Am I making enough time for sleep?
Step 3: If you end up consulting with a sleep medicine specialist, be sure to share your log withe them It may provide some useful clues.
Monica’s interview with sleep expert Jade Wu, PhD (Nutrition Diva podcast)
More on Sleep Restriction Therapy (Nutrition Diva podcast)