Sleeping (or trying to) takes up a third of our lives, and we know a good night’s rest is good for everything from heart health and memory to weight control and our immune systems. Yet most doctors don’t know much about the science of sleep – a typical American medical school curriculum spends only about three hours on the topic. At OZY, we don’t say this often, but whatever your challenges are when it comes to slumber, we hope today’s Daily Dose puts you to sleep.
Dr. Crystal Rose, Executive Director of Academic Affairs
sorely needed shut-eye
1. How Much Do You Need?
Think of sleep as the safest performance-enhancing drug out there. Most adults should sleep between seven and nine hours a night, according to the National Sleep Foundation, but babies and teenagers need even more, while those over the age of 65 can get by with seven to eight hours. Sleeping in a dark room is best (kill the night light if you can tell it’s on when your eyes are shut), to support our circadian rhythm, and be careful not to oversleep, as that comes with its own health risks. What about those friends who say they do best with five hours’ sleep? Unless they’re among the 1 in 4 million with a “short sleep” genetic mutation, they’re operating at a deficit.
2. Pandemic Proportions and Problems
Sadly, most people are getting even less sleep post-lockdown, with a recent survey showing that the majority are making less time for sleep and getting to bed later (particularly Gen Zers and millennials). Nearly 70 percent of those surveyed said they believe their sleep was healthier before COVID-19 hit, and a whopping 98 percent say they’ve developed new sleep problems since the pandemic began. Experts, meanwhile, point to a rise of insomnia significant enough to label it an “epidemic of sleep problems.”
3. The ‘So What?’ of Staying Up
Getting a good night’s sleep is about far more than feeling refreshed. Not sleeping can lead to clumsiness, accidents, cognitive impairment and mood swings, and scientists now believe sleep deprivation can increase the odds of developing myriad diseases, from Alzheimer’s and diabetes to cancer. Gives you something to sleep on, no?
4. Japan’s Model
The Japanese are known for insane working hours, and they even have a term for death from overwork. But the country is fast turning into a beacon of slumber innovation. A slew of firms have instituted lunchtime siestas at the office to help workers catch up. A Tokyo company called Crazy pays employees to catch up on their nightly zzz’s: If workers sleep at least six hours each weekday, they can receive around $600 in points to be used at the company cafeteria. Should this model become widespread? Do employers have an obligation — or an incentive — to keep their employees well-rested? Reply to this email to let us know.
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Regular exercise contributes to sound sleep, and there are particular foods that can help too, like turkey, white rice and chamomile tea. Demand for prescription sleep aids ticked up early in the pandemic, but a natural sleep supplement like melatonin is worth a try. Weighted blankets that swaddle adults like babies have become popular, or consider a hops- or lavender-scented pillow or a temperature-controlled mattress. Catching up with Bridgerton or The Daily Show in bed, however, is not a great idea. Instead, tune into your favorite frequency — white, pink or brown noise — to be lulled to sleep. Need more help? You may have to wait a while to book a sleep retreat, but just dreaming of faraway locales could settle your mind enough for a good night’s rest.
2. Minding Sleep Matters
Some say that certain music or practicing sleep yoga helps them drift off. Others need more hands-on help, like a sleep coach or therapist, to improve their sleep habits. If hearing the soothing voice of, say, Matthew McConaughey or Chris Hemsworth reading a bedtime story is just what the doctor ordered, then you might want to tap into sleep apps such as Calm or Slumber, among others.
3. Shocking Development
Still staring at the clock? Well, you’ll be happy to hear that experts are discovering new ways to use electromagnetic pulses to help us find rest. Although not yet a widely accepted sleep therapy, companies like SomniResonance are convinced they can deliver precise pulses to relieve pain and promote sleep. Studies have proved that transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) can lower the body’s ability to transmit pain signals, offering the promise of relief, and potentially sleep.
4. Shed Light on the Issue
Bright light tells us to be awake; darkness prompts our bodies to make sleep-inducing melatonin. Australian firm Re-Timer offers a pair of light-therapy glasses that help regulate your sleep cycle. Wearables such as Ayo produce blue light, promising more energy, a recalibrated circadian rhythm and improved slumber. That said, exposure to blue light at or near bedtime — from screens or energy-efficient lights — is thought to be a bad thing.
5. Settling the Snore Score
Nearly half of us snore on occasion, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine, and a quarter of adults snore almost every night. Rather than pulling the blanket over your head to drown out the noise, try getting your loved one a pillow lifter that repositions the snorer’s head as needed. For a cheap and cheerful approach, try a “nasal dilator” that can open the airways for better breathing and less snoring. When the soft palate in our mouths vibrates, we snore. To address that, the SNOR device claims to help sufferers by strengthening those soft palate muscles. Should all that fail, you may want to consider a sleep divorce.
If you missed them the last time around, the sneakers we can’t get enough of are back — and just in time for spring! These all-season low-tops are OZY’s favorite look for dressing up or down. But don’t wait around — these comfy kicks fly off the shelves and won’t be here for long.
Carlos is joined by the youngest member of Congress, Madison Cawthorn. The 25-year-old firebrand gives his take on the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, the car accident that opened his eyes to feeling invisible and his Moneyball approach to winning his campaign. What does the North Carolina Republican hope to work on with Biden? Watch now to find out.
You know the drill. You stay up late to finish a project and promise you’ll make up for the lost sleep the following day. That might help, but over the long term there’s no real way to “make up” for missed sleep. It can take four days to fully recover from a single hour of lost sleep, and the only effective way to overcome a sleep deficit is to get back on a consistent schedule of seven to nine solid hours.
2. Can You Sleep Too Much?
Spending too many hours in bed can throw your sleep-wake cycle off balance, and studies have associated oversleeping with diabetes, heart disease and an increased mortality risk. But it’s a chicken-and-egg situation: Sleeping too much is associated with depression and poverty, which are risk factors for health problems. Meanwhile, the pandemic is compounding those issues. In the end, proper sleep requires a Goldilocks approach: not too much and not too little.
3. Can You Control Your Dreams?
Sleep is divided into four stages of gradual relaxation, ending in REM, when dreams occur. We all dream — maybe even animals — so if you think you’re the exception to the rule, you’re just forgetting them (and not remembering them is a sign of poor sleep). Not everyone dreams in color or even in visuals. Blind people report dreaming of sounds, smells and other sensory impressions. The ability to control your dreams, where you choose the story and the characters, is called lucid dreaming and it’s fairly common — that is, if you’re getting ample REM sleep.
dreaming of a revolution
1. Blind Science
History tells of great scientists who were “stuck” and then suddenly dreamed up a solution. Niels Boher, for one, saw the structure of an atom in a dream and set out to prove it in real life. Turns out it was as he had “seen” it, and the discovery earned him the Nobel Prize in physics. For Benjamin Banneker, an 18th-century scientist, mathematician, farmer, astronomer and civil rights activist, dreams acted as his muse. He penned a series of essays described by scholars as mystical fantasies detailing spiritual odysseys, and through them he became an eloquent advocate calling on early America to live up to its Christian ideals in how it treated Black people.
Artist Salvador Dalí certainly had some unusual dreams. The surrealist called his art “hand-painted dream photographs,” and there’s no better example than his iconic Persistence of Memory. The painting depicts melting clocks and insect-infested watches in a barren landscape set against a placid sea and rocky mountainous cliff. In the center is an exaggerated caricature of a homunculus-like figure with a furrowed brow, saddled with a melting clock. Considered a commentary on the modern obsession with time, and the anxiety that brings, the work is proof that the dream state can take you places beyond real life.
3. Light It Up
Stephenie Meyer, author of the Twilight series, says the triangulated love story among a werewolf, vampire and human came to her in a vivid dream. And sometimes your dreams become a setup for a comeback. For instance, in a tribute to the late Cicely Tyson, Viola Davis describes watching Tyson act and then seeing opportunities for herself. “You gave me permission to dream,” Davis said of the legendary actress. Who inspires you to dream? Reply to this email to let us know.