Man is a genius when he is dreaming.
I am not a very good sleeper.
For years and years I was very proud of this ability to function on very little sleep; it served me well through the school years and the party years and the overnight road trips to New Orleans, through the nighttime feeding years and the first years of freelancing.
As I get older, though, I feel the need for more sleep. I’ve become forgetful. It’s difficult to concentrate. I feel generally run down.
I’m tired. And the more tired I get, the more squirrelly I feel.
It’s funny how we take our fitness needs and our nutritional needs so seriously, dedicating time and money for the right training, the right clothing, the right foods and vitamins. But sleep? Who scans the internet or hires personal trainers for advice on sleeping well? Who buys books full of great ideas for ways to get a delicious night’s sleep?
Nobody, that’s who. Sleep is the 3rd component in the Healthy Lifestyle Trifecta and it’s the easiest to do, but we don’t prioritize it the way we should.
A poll conducted by the National Sleep Foundation found that:
- 43% of Americans aged 13-64 said they rarely or never get a good night’s sleep on weeknights.
- 60% experience a sleep problem — snoring, waking in the night, waking too early — every night or almost every night.
We know, intuitively, that sleep is good for us; we can feel the difference between being well-rested and being sleep deprived. But do a little digging and it’s kinda scary just how important it is.
15 Reasons Why Sleep is Valuable
1. Sleep deprivation increases risk of car accidents, with severity and fatality rates comparative to driving under the influence.
2. It also increases your risk of heart attack.
3. Poor sleep can be linked to obesity, chronic diseases, hypertension, diabetes, depression and teen risk behaviors.
4. Sleep improves the functions of your immune system, produces necessary hormones, repairs damaged tissue and may help fight cancers.
5. Sleep improves connection-making by clearing away mental clutter, and bolsters memory (both mental and muscle memory) through a process called consolidation.
6. Sleep deprivation makes us mentally groggy and fuzzy, but our agitating nerves become hyper-reactive, causing stress and jumpiness.
7. Lack of sleep impairs decision making by undermining emotional and cognitive processes.
8. Tired people are more likely to obsess over the past with “displaced aggression”: thinking about how things could have been better if THAT GUY had done something differently rather than examine their own behavior.
9. Better sleep can mean better pain management and better recovery times.
10. Extra sleep can be correlated to peak performance and a competitive edge in athletes (and shouldn’t we all be striving for peak performance and a competitive edge all the time?)
11. The lack of focus brought on by lack of sleep can lead to clutter and disorganization (mental and physical).
12. The sleep deprived tend to be less motivated to cook and are more drawn to high fat foods.
13. In one study, a group who slept 80 minutes less than the control group was found to consume an additional 549 calories daily on average.
14. Sleep deprived people are perceived as less healthy and less attractive.
15. Beauty sleep is no misnomer, as you can see sleep deprivation in your skin due to stress-related aging and chronic dehydration.
How do we achieve better sleep? I think you know the basics:
- Reserve your bedroom for rest and sex only
- Unplug from screens an hour or more before bedtime
- Keep noise and electronic glow to a minimum
- Keep cool (optimum temperature for sleep is 65-72° for most people)
- Exercise, but not too close to bedtime
- Get some sunshine during the day to improve circadian rhythms
- Take a warm shower or bath before bed
- Develop a bedtime and routine and stick to it
- Try melatonin for improved quality of sleep
Allow me to add one more: GET A TECHNOGEL PILLOW.
I was skeptical at first, to be frank. These pillows cost about $160 and I couldn’t see how much better a pillow could be for that money.
Consider me converted.
These are quality products, made in Italy. The average consumer is going to be looking at their pillows and mattresses, but Technogel has also found its way into Porsche and Alfa Romeo concept cars, into a line of Harrys of London shoes, into Philippe Starck chairs, and into the MOMA four times.
The Technogel material is the same found in Dr. Scholl’s “I’m gellin” sole inserts, which Maverick and I both use in sneaks. It’s totally non-toxic (eatable, even), hypoallergenic and free of volatile agents. The combination of Technogel and memory foam offers custom 3D support, like a second skin or being on water, so pressure is evenly distributed.
The gel also has a high thermal conductivity and ventilation, so skin temperature is lowered: no having to flip the pillow to the “cool side” or being awakened from being hot and sweaty (I’m told other memory foam products can make you feel hot, which makes sense: the density must retain heat).
- this sucker is heavy. No pillow fights here unless you’re playing to WIN.
- it’s solid. You’re not going to be moving it around, fluffing it up, punching it down, etc. Set it and forget it, for a good long time.
- I took off the jersey cover to wash it, and was really impressed by the quality of the zipper. This seems silly, but if you’re someone who has purchased high end purses, jackets, etc, you know what I mean: the details like the stitching and the zippers are really what makes a quality piece.
- it felt weird the first time I laid my weary head on it. Because it has a “lip” to support your neck, and I’m used to sleeping with two firm pillows that angle my head up a bit, it feels like my head was pointing down, does that make sense? When in fact my spine and neck were aligned.
After a full month of sleeping on it:
- I don’t wake up with numb arms anymore. I’m amazed. This was a fairly common occurrence that I had thought was connected to all the time I spend on the computer— I’d wake up with a totally dead arm and would have to use the other to move it around until the circulation returned. I guess I was sleeping directly on a pressure point or something; it hasn’t happened even once since I started sleeping on this pillow.
- I also don’t experience the neck and shoulder tightness that I used to. I’m not sure if that was caused by my pillows, or whether it’s caused by computer hunch and better sleep is relieving it, but it doesn’t really matter: I don’t have it anymore.
- Jeff, who is even more of a skeptic than I am, will steal my pillow when his neck is gimped up and report the next day that he’s all better. I’m thinking we’re going to have to buy a second pillow.
- Now that I’m thinking about it, I don’t wake up in the middle of the night anymore. I just don’t. And according to researchers, that’s typical: people sleeping on Technogel surfaces report up to 45% more time spent in deep sleep.
- Basically, I’m semi-seriously thinking about a Technogel mattress. Our mattress was bought with our wedding gift money, 13 years ago, and is ready to be replaced anyway.
But that’s expensive!
Well, if you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that I believe in buying high quality, because longevity = more sustainable. I also like the non-toxic nature of Technogel. But mostly, I have to say: it works for me. Just the pillow has made a huge difference in my sleep patterns and habits, and when you consider all the ways sleep affects your health, that’s an investment I can deal with.
To put it in perspective, the cost of a pillow is comparable to the cost of a good pair of running shoes and one mid-range pair of running shorts, sports bra and top. Which, if you used every day, would have to be replaced in, what, six months? A year if you’re lucky.
And if you were already buying multiple organic, hypoallergenic king-size pillows per person like me… well, the price difference isn’t all that significant anyway.
CHANCE TO WIN:
If you’re on the Twitter, come join us tonight at 9pm EST for our #Technogel chat! (I’m the one behind the @FitFluential handle.) We’ll be talking about the importance of sleep and asking for sleep tips. Three of the top chat participants will receive their own Technogel pillow.
And just in case you need any more convincing… just check out this video.
Are you a good sleeper?
Do you consider your pillows, mattress, sheets to be investments?
I work for FitFluential and received a free pillow from Technogel, a client, for review purposes. All 1500 words of opinion are my own.