It’s not in the headlines yet, and maybe never will be — but there is a real honest-to-goodness battle being waged right now all across North America, and the outcome can mean the difference between good healthy sleep patterns and destroyed health from sleep deprivation.
At the basic level, the fundamentals of sleep are not rocket science. Adults need around eight hours of good solid sleep each night in order to function well during the day. Consistent lack of sleep, for whatever reason, leads to serious physical and psychological problems — including elevated blood pressure, migraines, eating disorders, and even psychosis. The old Hollywood script writers were not making it up when they had the evil Nazi interrogator keep the hero up for 48 hours in a row as torture to make him spill the beans — going two days and longer without sleep really does cause mental impairment and physical distress. The human body is not made to withstand long periods without sleep. Lack of full sleep mean lack of full life.
According to MemoryFoamTalk, “To safeguard a person’s sleep from attack, start with the fundamentals — meaning, the mattress. Today’s technology has made marvelous strides in the manufacturing of comfortable, durable, and sleep-inducing mattresses. Foam rubber and gels, infused with lavender, are now available to keep a person comfortably cool all night and to conform to their torso so well that the sensation is something like being in a cocoon.”
Today’s mattresses are a far cry from those creepy waterbeds of the Sixties and Seventies!
But the main enemy in this war against sleep is undoubtedly the digital distractions that surround virtually everyone who does not live on the moon. There are social media sites, which never slow down and never sign off. There is smartphone texting — there again, it never takes a vacation or overheats. And, of course, online shopping and streaming television and videos can keep anyone up half the night — and often does! North Americans, especially the younger demographics, cannot bear to be parted from their Facebook or Instagram or Twitter accounts for longer than a few hours. On average, Americans are online eighteen hours a day — so that leaves only six hours a day for sleep!
But it’s not a hopeless situation. There are simple strategies to break the digital habit and keep it from controlling and destroying health and sanity.
First and foremost, individuals have to set limits — they must impose curfews and restrictions on the hours spent online or otherwise cybersurfing. When ten o’clock at night rolls around, no matter what’s new on Netflix, people can discipline themselves to stop — to turn off their phones and close up their laptops. Next, they should consciously work at making their bedroom a calm, quiet and serene place for sleep — not a game station or communications hub. If noise pollution is a problem, invest a few dollars in hitech quiet earbuds. A lot of sound sleepers use a sleep mask to keep flickering light at bay. A small glass of warm milk just before bed can work wonders — especially compared to a late night cup of coffee or a bottle of beer.
So turn off the Late Late Show and start counting sheep — or, to keep it trendy, start counting bitcoin!