Written By: Bethaney Wallace
A few weeks ago, we shared the first half of this article – expressing how medical breakthroughs, research, and ongoing studies taught us sleep. Facts and theories alike that continued to flourish during the past calendar year. And now, it’s time to expand on that knowledge; believe it or not, there was even more that the year had to teach us about positive and healthy sleeping habits. From routines to “resetting” one’s sleeping abilities, here’s what else 2013 had to share about getting better rest.
For parents with young children, one of the easiest ways to get them to sleep on a regular basis is to stick to a pattern. Bedtime takes place at X, and that means no getting up, reading, or asking for “just one more thing.” Though it may be hard to implement based on family schedules, this strict routine was shown to improve sleep quality. Those who got to bed at the same time each night were shown to obtain more, deeper sleep. But what’s even more impressive is that regular bedtimes have been connected with higher cognitive abilities. Kids who went to bed at the same time each night scored higher on reading, math, and spatial awareness tests. These results were especially true for kids ages 5, 6, and 7, showing that these ages might be the most important for consistent sleeping rituals.
Sleeping issues have long since been a side effect of depression. With new findings, however, it seems that curing one may just cure the other as well. While regular sleep not only works to improve one’s mood and functions for the next day, it also creates a sense of routine and nighttime purpose, something depression patients don’t always have. While the study is still underway, doctors are now reporting that patients who were treated for both depression and insomnia (vs. just depression) came back with almost twice the recovery rate than the other end of their test group.
When we’re tired and on edge, we’re often the most likely to reach for the junk food, the candy, or the fatty fried options. Because our bodies are lacking the sleep from the previous night, taking in these less healthy options acts as a source of comfort. But rather than giving in, look for a way to get better sleep. Once well rested, you will crave healthier foods and require fewer snacking breaks – on top of having gotten a good night’s rest.
Though it may sound far-fetched, many agree that a night with nature can actually do wonders for the sleeping cycle, or circadian cycle. Research, which was performed at the University of Colorado Boulder, showed that campers obtained better, longer bouts of sleep, especially after a solid seven nights under the stars. Added effects were said to have been fresh air, a break from electronics, and a lack of artificial light. Though the results are still deemed controversial, it can serve as motivation for sleepers everywhere to steer clear of man-made items just before bed.
Other results for the year included: