Sleep is one of the most important elements to your mental health and wellness.

Sleeping Beauty: Too Much, Too Little, and the Ugliness of Naps

💤 I love a good nap – in a chair, on the couch or in a bed, it doesn’t matter – either way, they’re glorious. 

In the moment…but after a solid snooze, it’s a different story. 

Afterwards, you’re left with that zombified feeling. 🧟 You know what I’m talking about: when you’re a total space cadet and disoriented AF. And you still feel exhausted, as though you didn’t really rest at all. 

I feel this way every time I oversleep – and after every nap – which is less than ideal. 

It’s one of the reasons I’ve weaned myself off naptime. That, and while having already sucked precious seconds from the clock, naps ruin my productivity.  

I’m a write-off for the remainder of the day if I take a nap. It’s next to impossible for me to find the motivation to do just about anything (ask my partner, she’ll tell you 🙄), and sometimes I even feel a little nauseous. 

In the end, I’ve come to realize catnaps are not for me. 

But that’s not to say we shouldn’t schedule personal time in our calendars to recharge. And sleep is one of the most important elements to the wellbeing of your mental health.

Photo by Guillermo Latorre

The science of sleep

The Farnam Street podcast, The Knowledge Project, hosted Lisa Feldman Barrett to discuss the complexities of emotions and how to balance the brain budget

🧠 Lisa is a successful neuroscientist, and during the podcast she touches on how important sleep is to the health of our brain, arguing it’s the best way to refill your reserves and repair mental and physical wounds.

Along with rejuvenating the mind, sleep also helps us process information and consolidate memories. Scott Cairney, a researcher from the University of York in the United Kingdom, explains:

“When you are awake you learn new things, but when you are asleep you refine them, making it easier to retrieve them and apply them correctly when you need them the most. This is important for how we learn but also for how we might help retain healthy brain functions.”

Of course, everybody is different and our brains are uniquely our own. 

Some say a few hours of sleep is all they need to function properly, while others (myself included) are next to useless if they don’t get at least six hours. 

And let’s not forget about oversleeping and its link to medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and depression – too much of a good thing is still ‘too much’. 

So, what’s the proper amount of sleep you need each night? According to the Sleep Foundation

  • adults (26–64) need between seven–nine hours;
  • young adults (18–25) also require seven–nine hours; 
  • teens (14–17) should be getting eight–ten hours; while 
  • youngsters need up to 13 hours of sleep each night. 

I don’t know about you, but I’m happy to get a solid six hours. 🤷

Set yourself up
for a restorative reboot

Whether you’re getting too much sleep or too little, it’s about finding the right balance for you – as is true for many things in our lives – and that begins with setting yourself up for a sound sleep. 

Here are a five things you can do to improve the quality of your snooze, while also making it easier to fall asleep:

  1. 🗓 Set a sleep schedule that allows you to get the proper amount of sleep you need—and once you’ve set that schedule, stick to it.

  2. 📱 Turn off all your screens at least one hour before powering down—did you know the light from a cell phone stimulates your brain making it harder to fall asleep?

  3. 🏃 Exercise and eat healthily—sorry, no sugary snacks before bed, but I encourage you to treat yourself to a quick and easy yoga session instead.

  4. 💧 Stay hydrated and limit your caffeine intake throughout the day—health experts commonly recommend eight glasses of water a day (approximately two litres).

  5. 🛌 Resist the temptation to nap—speaking from personal experience, nothing throws your sleep schedule off more than a mid-afternoon nap. 

Bonus Tip: 📊 track your sleeping patterns to help maximize restfulness and minimize restlessness. Innovative technologies like the Apple Watch and Fitbit make this easier than ever, offering insight into deep sleep cycles, when you’re in R.E.M., and how often you toss and turn.  

Full disclosure: my success with these tips are a work in progress – especially number one and two. 

Then again, we’re all a work in progress. 

😴 Sleep tight, folks. Don’t let the bed bugs bite. 

Do you have a sleeping aid you’d like to share? I’d love to hear your advice – leave a comment or send me an email to cory.davis05@gmail.com.

The Diary of Davis Newsletter.
Photo by Aaron Burden

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