I have a dear friend – let’s call him Miguel – who rarely catches a good night’s sleep. Initially, he is unable to fall asleep at a decent time, and once he does, he often wakes up in the middle of the night. When he finally dozes off, it’s time to wake up. He’s miserable.
Miguel and I are close, and as a master sleeper, I often ask about his nighttime rituals. It will not surprise you that Miguel does almost everything wrong.
Miguel enjoys a nightcap – or 2 or 3. Imbibing is part of his daily lifestyle, but here’s the thing. Alcohol makes for a disrupting night. I tell him to try a dry period to see if it helps, but he retorts, “Alcohol makes me tired. I’ll never get to sleep if I don’t have a glass of wine.” Sure, alcohol is a sedative, at first. Unfortunately, as our liver metabolizes it, our sleep is disrupted. If you’re waking up in the middle of the night after a cup of booze, you may want to save it for the weekend.
Miguel is also a connoisseur of screentime. He watches TV, scrolls through Facebook, and views Instagram stories on his phone – ALL AT THE SAME TIME. This nightly bad habit continues until bedtime. Blue light from screens suppresses melatonin levels, which help us fall asleep at a decent hour. The light stimulates our brains and keeps us up. Cutting screentime one hour before bed is encouraged.
We’ve said it before, and we’ll repeat it – Lack of sleep is bad for your health. The side effects of lack of sleep are super serious: weakened immunity, mood changes, high blood pressure, risk for diabetes, risk of heart attack, low sex drive, weight gain, and more. Google it. It’s not pretty.
The pandemic makes every day seem the same, so there is no shame if you have fallen into a routine of red wine and YouTube, but if you’re not sleeping through the night, you should experiment by cutting these habits out. Leave the debauchery for the weekend when you can sleep in a little. A good night’s sleep shouldn’t equate to puritanical ways.
Now is a great time to get your sleeping habits under control. Now that there’s a vaccine making the rounds make it a goal to have stellar sleeping habits when this whole thing is over. There’s nothing like a quarantine project to keep you on your toes.
Now, if I could only convince Miguel.