I have had to completely transform my relationship with sleep.
Maybe it all started when I first heard my farm-bred, hard-working great-grandmother say, “Sleep is the biggest waste of some good, usable time that I’ve ever heard of.” My eight-year-old self didn’t think much of it until I was launched into my teenage years when the competition of “who is operating on the least amount of sleep” game quickly began. Somehow you received a badge of honor for pulling off an all-nighter and showing up at school completely unfazed with that air of untouchable, rebellious confidence. All the while, I would witness my dad heading to work on a mere 4-5 hours of rest, stating there were just never enough hours in the day to get everything done. I didn’t consciously realize it at the time, but a sense of shame around sleeping more than six or seven hours a night began to plague me. Sleep is overrated right? When you have a lot to do, wouldn’t cutting back on your sleep to fit it all in be the most prudent and responsible decision?
EFFECTS OF SLEEP DEPRIVATION
It wasn’t until I began to uncover the literal life-saving benefits of sleep (and after having a disastrous all-nighter meltdown in front of a professor) that I began to reevaluate my beliefs. My perception of sleep quickly changed from being an as-needed-basis activity to a precious health secret I needed to rigorously protect. I began to uncover shocking nuggets of information that reinforced the benefit of truly good sleep and the miraculous effect it can have.
- Not getting enough sleep can weaken your immune system and make you vulnerable to various diseases.
- Numerous studies have shown that sleep deprivation increases your chances of having a stroke, developing Alzheimer’s and even getting cancer. [i]
- Weight gain can be a common side effect of getting less than 6 hours of sleep due to hormone imbalance in the body. (Specifically, the appetite-regulating hormone leptin decreases which causes affected eating patterns.) [ii]
- Lack of sleep is proven to accelerate the development of fine lines, uneven pigmentation and reduced elasticity in the skin due to insufficient recovery time for the skin barrier. [iii]
- A recent study showed that people with insomnia (a disorder that makes it hard to fall or stay asleep) were five times more likely to suffer from depression and 20 times more likely to develop symptoms of anxiety. [iv]
- Sleep deprivation increases activity in the amygdala (the emotional center of the brain) and can trigger heightened responses to negative stimuli. This can manifest in increased anger, hyperactivity, aggression, impulsivity and inappropriate social behaviors.[v]
- Research shows that 40% of people with disabilities deal with unique challenges that make them experience long-term sleep difficulties.[vi]
- A recent study revealed that 90% of veterans dealing with combat-related PTSD show symptoms of insomnia.[vii]
- Nocturia, or nighttime urination, can affect up to 80% of seniors, causing major sleep disruptions and problems falling back to sleep.[viii]
As a woman with a spinal cord injury, I can personally attest to the sleepless nights that come with an unpredictable bladder. Incontinence is not just a widespread nighttime issue for seniors - it can also affect those with disabilities, like me, and around 1-2% of the general population. This blog will highlight 12 detailed solutions that will help you achieve the best sleep of your life, along with tips and product suggestions for those of you dealing with nighttime incontinence. Everyone deserves to have a dry and reinvigorating night of sleep! Part 3 will focus on the last set of four solutions for “Creating Powerful Habits.”
Creating Powerful HABITS
We are the sum of our habits. When we commit to daily sleep-supporting actions, we help strengthen our body’s internal clock and give ourselves a greater ability to wake up every morning fresh and rejuvenated.
Step #9 - Sleep and wake at consistent times
- FACTS: Research shows that our bodies crave consistency when it comes to our internal clock. When we stick closely to our circadian rhythm (the internal process that regulates our sleep-wake cycle), we are not only conditioning our bodies to sleep better at night, but we are also creating a biological rhythm that boosts a stronger immune system.[ix]
- SOLUTIONS: Although it may be tempting to let our waking times be dictated by events and sleep quality from the night before, the science shows that waking close to the same time every day is the secret weapon to feeling renewed throughout the day.
Step #10 - Bright light exposure throughout the day
- FACTS: Bright light exposure is another powerful way to create a strong sleep response by reinforcing your circadian rhythm. A recent study specifically showed a correlation between 30-40 minutes of morning light exposure and fewer sleep disturbances at night.[x]
- SOLUTIONS: Working to integrate a morning routine that gets you outside between 8 a.m. and noon for at least half an hour will naturally energize and wake your body early in the day, helping you to have a more natural wind-down and deeper sleep at night.
Step #11 - Create a dark sleeping environment at night
- FACTS: Lights in the bedroom, even from an alarm clock, can suppress the hormone melatonin: the sleep-wake cycle hormone responsible for creating a relaxing, sleep-inducing state before we go to bed.[xi]
- SOLUTION: On the flip side of seeking bright lights during the day, we need to ensure to create a dark, quiet environment at night. By creating a cave-like bedroom environment through thick curtains, black-out shades or eye-masks, we can increase the natural melatonin levels in our body and achieve a more peaceful, calm state during sleep.
Step #12 - Create a soothing nighttime routine
- FACTS: Science shows that the brain needs 1-2 hours of wind-down time to more easily enter a sleep slate.
- SOLUTIONS: We can implement several nighttime rituals to relax our bodies and minds. These include activities such as meditating, taking a hot bath, reading, journaling, listening to music or light stretching. Any activity that minimizes blue light and gets your mind into a peaceful state will create a powerful sleep routine.
Bottom line: sleep is the key to everything we do. It is the source of creating impeccable health, having the energy to pursue our passions, and enjoying the time we are given in this life.
As someone with a disability who is in a vulnerable population for sleep disturbances, I often felt like I was doomed to endure poor sleep. It wasn’t until I took a hard look at the science of sleep that I realized I could turn my sleep ship around.
My first step was committing to a dry, comfortable sleep with Attends Premier Overnight Bladder Control Pads. Other pads that I’ve tried left me feeling uncomfortable throughout the night, with my dignity in the toilet by morning. Not only do the overnight pads help me to get the best sleep I’ve ever had at night, but they also help me to live a bolder, more adventurous lifestyle during the day.
Taking this first step toward owning my sleep journey made me realize how many other changes I could make to get a better night’s sleep. After eventually achieving bladder and sleep schedule control, I was able to change my life in ways that I couldn’t have even imagined. It has boosted my health in a significant way and given me the energy to pursue my dream career and passions. What could better sleep do for your life?
Now go find the best sleep of your life with Attends!