Why You Should Give a Sh** About Your Sleep Pattern
The dog days of summer will soon be upon us, which inevitably means after work beers on sun-soaked patios and weekend BBQs with the family. But with all the good times that longer days inspire, it’s easy to forget the potential woes of messing with your sleep schedule. Want to rock your week and still find energy to hit the park with the kids on Saturday? Solid sleep is the closest thing you’ll find to a miracle drug.
We spend a third of our lives getting shuteye, which works out to between seven and eight hours per night in la-la land for the average guy (kids and teens can need up to 10 hours). Less sleep over time is linked to obesity, low testosterone levels and type 2 diabetes. Insomnia also slows your metabolism, so those beer-related calories from a late night of heavy drinking can take even longer to burn off the next day.
Sleep is as important to our bodies as eating, drinking and breathing, and helps to repair and restore our brains, not just our bodies. Nearly half of men say they don’t regularly get their full seven hours between the sheets. But there are a few simple fixes that can help you snooze when you need it most.
- Embrace the dark side
Block all the light sources from your bedroom and cover the LED lights on your electronics. Our brains are programmed to wake when it’s light and sleep when it’s dark. (Thanks, Mother Nature!) If you can’t avoid the light, try an eye shade at a designated hour each evening.
- Avoid taking naps if you’re experiencing sleep problems
If you find yourself drowsier than a post-hibernation grizzly during the day, stick to 30 minutes or less.
- Keep it cool
The bedroom should be the coolest room in the house. We’re talking 15-18 degrees Celsius for optimal sleep.
- Follow the same routine
Stick to a bedtime and get up at the same hour, including weekends. Cheat days are OK, but wild swings on weekends can cause enduring fatigue.
- Catching up on sleep is mostly a myth
Sorry to burst this bubble, but power-sleeping your way back to optimal health after a few weeks of crappy sleep is almost impossible. A Harvard Medical School study found that even when you sleep an extra 10 hours after two weeks of six-hour siestas, your reaction time and focus are worse than if you had pulled an all-nighter. Gulp.