On average, I sleep around 5 hours per night which I KNOW is not healthy for me especially trying to lead a more balanced life. So on top of getting myself to exercise more I also know that I need to start sleeping more too.
Based on WebMD’s Sleep Disorder’s page, “the average adult needs 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night. When you get less sleep than you need, your body does not just “adapt,” but rather you may begin to experience symptoms of sleep deprivation. Your judgment and reaction time may slow, you may experience memory loss, depression, a weakened immune system, and pain.”
USING THE SLEEP CYCLE APP
I don’t want to experience sleep deprivation symptoms on a regular basis. So the first step for me was to acknowledge that I’m not getting enough sleep so that I could do something about it. In order to prove that I wasn’t getting enough sleep I started to track my sleeping habits using the app on my phone called Sleep Cycle. The statistics it provided was enough for me to make a change to my current unhealthy sleeping habits. Sleep Cycle stated that my average time in bed is 5 hours and 16 minutes which is not good. The app is good to help you monitor your sleeping habits and make changes to it. The difficult part is remembering to turn Sleep Cycle on right before you sleep.
THE SLEEP EXPERIMENT
I decided to do a quick experiment on myself regarding my resting habits for less than a week (Please note that I did not change my eating habits or anything else while I did this experiment. The only changes I made are listed below).
Because I haven’t been sleeping well for several weeks especially since I was working on launching this blog I decided to take 2mg of melatonin on Sunday. I still did what I normally do before I sleep which is being in front of a computer, tablet, or phone. I slept around midnight and got the best deep sleep in a long while. See my sleep cycle graph below. I got a 67% sleep quality. I was so happy that I was able to get some deep sleep.
On Monday, I was in front of a computer, tablet, or phone until 1am. See my sleep cycle graph below. I got a 52% sleep quality. I was sleeping but moving a lot.
My sleep cycle graph concerned me. I found an article on Huffington Post about how “Reading on a Screen Before Bed Might Be Killing You.” It basically states that “iPad readers took longer to fall asleep, felt less sleepy at night and had shorter REM sleep compared to the book readers, researchers found. The iPad readers also secreted less melatonin, which helps regulate your sleep. They were also more tired than book readers the following day, even if both got a full eight hours of sleep.”
I didn’t know that “…light from screens in the evening alters sleepiness and alertness, and suppresses melatonin levels.” The article recommends to “avoid the use of light-emitting screens before bedtime and for those who must use computers or other light-emitting devices in the evening, software or other technology that filters out the blue light may help.”
I did more research online and looked at the prices of purchasing filters to go on my laptop, tablet, and phone but found that it wasn’t practical to buy a screen to place on each of my devices to filter out the blue light. I figured that glasses that could filter blue light would be the best method for me. I looked on Amazon (since I’m a Prime member) and found orange glasses that filters blue light. I read the reviews and figured that at over $9 I should give it a try.
On Tuesday, I ordered the orange glasses and delivery was scheduled for Thursday. Again I was in front of a computer or phone until I went to bed at 12:49am. The only difference in my routine was that I decided to work out for 20 minutes in the morning. My sleep quality was better at 60% and I noticed that on my sleep cycle graph I was able to get into deep sleep more often than when I didn’t work out.
On Wednesday, I didn’t change my habit of being in front of a computer and went to bed at 1:20am. I got a 62% sleep quality and was still moving around a lot in bed.
On Thursday, my orange glasses arrived and I started wearing them around 8pm around the house until I went to bed. I still was in front of a computer until I went to bed at midnight and got a 75% sleep quality and was able to deep sleep.
WHAT I LEARNED
Overall, I didn’t perform this experiment long enough to get definitive results. But for me I was convinced that I can get better sleep by consuming melatonin, exercising, or wearing the glasses that filters out blue light.
I don’t like consuming anything I don’t need. I’d rather have my body produce melatonin naturally. So in the end, I decided to exercise during the week and make sure to always wear the orange glasses while working on the computer, tablet, or phone before I go to bed. By exercising and wearing my orange glasses I know that my sleep quality will get better in time.
I’m trying to move my bed time slowly to midnight and then will move it to 11pm and then 10pm if possible. Those are my night time goals. Although I’m a night owl I’ll keep trying my best to get more sleep so I can be a more balanced person during the day with my family. I know I will eventually get there with practice. Also try to get better sleep by applying sleep hygiene rules that learned from my therapist.