On Nov 9th, Daylight Savings Time will make its way back into our calendars again. In order to be prepared, we sat down with Beautyrest Sleep Expert, Dr. Rebecca Robbins, a sleep researcher at the NYU School of Medicine. We talked with her about getting a full night of sleep (even when we lose an hour in our day due to the change), how we can get into a proper sleep routine, meditation and how much sleep we honestly need.
ATHLEISURE MAG: Why is Daylight Savings time such a shift for us as we experience it every year?
DR. REBECCA ROBBINS: Human beings are creatures of habit, particularly when it comes to sleep. Our sleep is largely governed by a 24-hour cycle, or circadian rhythm. Small changes to this schedule, such as ‘sleeping in’ on the weekends, but also daylight savings time of even one hour can have a dramatic effect upon our sleep schedule, and subsequently our mood, alertness, energy, and health. For instance, workplace research shows employee performance declines significantly in the week after daylight savings time while employees adjust to a new sleep schedule.
AM: How can we prepare or Daylight Savings Time?
DR. RR: The transition to a new time and improved waking success can be eased with a few key strategies:
-Start going to bed 15 minutes earlier each night leading up to daylight savings time
-Practice good sleep hygiene (e.g., avoid caffeine after 2pm, keep your bedtime and rising time as consistent as possible)
-Make exercise a priority, this can help you adjust to your new sleep schedule
-Get as much blue light to boost your alertness during the day as possible, even on a cloudy day, walking outside in the morning and afternoon can help your body adjust to the time change
-Avoid light at night close to bed, including cell phones, as this can trigger our alertness when our bodies need to power down
AM: How can we create a successful sleep environment at home and when we travel?
DR. RR: Our bedrooms must be a sanctuary for rest, relaxation, and sleep. The best bedroom design features neutral tones and optimally, is devoid of technology such as cell phones or cable boxes. Most important, the mattress is the foundation to a good night’s sleep. I recommend the Beautyrest Black line, which features individually pocketed coils for low-motion transfer and optimal airflow, as well as memory foam on top for support and comfort.
AM: How important and linked are meditation and sleep?
DR. RR: Meditation is the practice of quieting the mind and focusing on the breath. It is a deep form of relaxation. Individuals who practice meditation frequently can reap many benefits, including improved sleep. Also, the strategies of medication (e.g., quieting the mind, slowing the breath) are tools that can help with sleep onset (i.e., the process of falling asleep), so meditation and sleep are indeed linked! To showcase this correlation, I recently led an in-bed meditation session for 150 attendees after an overnight Max Richter concert in New York City.
AM: How much sleep do we really need?
DR. RR: The duration of sleep we need to perform at our peak when we are awake changes over the lifespan. Children need almost as much sleep as they can get to support healthy development, teenagers actually need between 8 and 9 hours and adults typically require between 7 and 8 hours for optimal health, well-being, and cognitive performance. Many people tell me they need only 5-hours of sleep, but odds are they don’t even realize how much better they would feel if they slept for a few more hours.
AM: Are power naps beneficial?
DR. RR: Absolutely! A ‘power nap’ is a nap of 20 minutes. This is a great way to recover if you have to stay up late or have a hard time sleeping. Make sure to get up after 20 minutes or you may wake up groggy. One exception to this, however, is that power naps or naps of any kind are discouraged for individuals suffering from insomnia.
AM: What happens while we sleep beyond getting a good night's rest?
DR. RR: During sleep our brains, body, and skin go into deep repair mode. Sleep plays an important role in removing toxins from the brain and body. Sleep is also the time during the day when our blood pressure and body temperature, for instance, dip to their lowest points. Allowing our bodies to process through this complete and total repair and is what allows us to be optimally awake. This is actually something Beautyrest is focused on with the development of its mattresses. The brand believes that a great night’s rest can help you reach your full potential the next day which is why they are dedicated to using the latest in sleep technology and innovation.
AM: With Awards Season, how can we get great sleep and is there such a thing as a sleeping plan to ensure you are at your best?
DR. RR: A healthy sleep routine is a great idea all year long, but especially when you have an event and want to be fully awake and at your best. Unfortunately, we often make exercise and nutrition a priority during these periods but ignore sleep. You can certainly create a sleeping plan similar to a pre-event workout or nutrition plan to help you stay on-track. The best practices for maintaining any healthy habit, such as keeping a journal or schedule, apply here as well.
AM: What are 3 things that we can do to be mindful of getting good sleep?
DR. RR: Tracking sleep is increasingly common among the population! According to our research, as many as 80% of people use a mobile or wearable device to track their sleep. A new, low profile way to track your sleep (which is a great way to increase your mindfulness) is with the Beautyrest Sleeptracker monitor, which lies seamlessly under your pillow, allowing you to wake up to a breadth of data and insights about your sleep!
Another way to be more mindful about sleep is to set a gentle alarm at night for your bedtime routine. Optimally, we all take time to unwind and unplug with a routine that is relaxing. Set a gentle alarm to go off about 30 minutes before you want to be slipping into bed as a peaceful cue to you that it is time to start to unplug from electronics, take a bath or do some reading.
Finally, enhanced mindfulness about sleep can be achieved with simple journaling about your alertness level the next day in a notebook or word document.
AM: What yoga moves are conducive to sleep?
DR. RR: Exercise that is high intensity is undesirable before bed, but restorative yoga or a gentle flow from up dog to down dog are optimal for relaxing and softening any tense muscles before bed.
AM: Is there such a thing that people can work on projects in their sleep and if so, is it healthy?
DR. RR: Sleep is a time when we actually rehearse events and things we learned from the day before, making sleep an essential component of ability to remember and recall. Thus, healthy sleep is a critical part of memory and cognition.
AM: How important is it to dream and to remember them?
DR. RR: Dreaming largely takes place during Rapid Eye Movement sleep. It is neither important or unimportant to remember dreams, but we do find that if you start to talk about dreams with a spouse or friend, or journal about them, your ability to recall dreams is enhanced.