As a child, each of us heard from our parents the phrase “Sleep is the best medicine”. And it’s true. Sleep is actually the best way to stabilize both physical and psychological conditions. However, in modern life, we don’t pay proper attention to sleep and sometimes neglect it, giving preference to less significant things.
Sleep hygiene is a series of rules whose observance ensures proper, healthy sleep. It’s not just about how we sleep, it’s about preparation for sleep, the duration of sleep, a properly organized sleeping place. All these factors affect the quality of our sleep. The benefits of sleep hygiene are questionable in clinical settings, but have good potential to improve sleep and health in the general population. In other words, good behavior is not enough to treat insomnia and correct other sleep disorders. But for maintaining a healthy lifestyle and reducing the risk of major life-threatening diseases, it’s the best.
Sleep scientists have developed a universal list of rules that are recommended to follow to ensure a healthy sleep:
- Maintain a strict sleep schedule – get up at the same time every day, even on weekends or during vacations.
- Sleep at least 7-8 hours.
- Don’t go to bed if you don’t want to sleep.
- If you cannot fall asleep within 20 minutes, get out of bed.
- Don’t work or think about problems before going to bed.
- Ensure silence in the bedroom.
- Ventilate the bedroom before going to bed and keep it at a cool temperature.
- Don’t turn on bright lights before going to bed.
- Turn off electronic devices and gadgets at least 30 minutes before bedtime.
- Try not to eat before bedtime.
- Leave online sports betting and watching movies for the next day or weekends.
- Exercise and eat a healthy diet.
- Don’t consume caffeine at the end of the day or in the evening.
- Avoid drinking alcohol before bedtime.
We all have our own individual bedtime ritual: some like to read a book, some fall asleep great with a movie, for some a glass of wine is a good way to calm down, and some relax in a warm bath. Whether your rules are helpful or harmful – it’s up to you, of course. But for your sleep to be full and healthy, look at the universal list, developed by somnologists, and pick up a few items that are suitable for you.
Chronotype and “Social Jetlag” – Is There a Relationship
The main difference between “larks” and “owls” is the time of peak activity, this is called a Chronotype. In more scientific terms, a chronotype is the individual characteristics of the body’s circadian rhythms. According to the book The Power of When by psychologist Michael Breuss, there are four chronotypes:
- “Bears”. These are most of the people who fall asleep after sunset and wake up after sunrise.
- “Lions” go to bed before sunset and get up before dawn.
- “Wolves” are prototypical “owls,” whose activity peaks in the afternoon and they are completely incapacitated in the morning.
- “Dolphins” are people with a complete lack of a regular sleep schedule.
- Knowing your chronotype can certainly help you make a suitable sleeping and waking schedule for yourself, but it would go against our social life.
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This is “social jetlag” – a discrepancy between the individual biological clock and generally accepted social norms. In Russia, this concept is not widespread and this issue is not given due attention. And very wrongly, because, if we talk about work, the productivity of employees depends on it.
The recent pandemic and the transition to a “remote location” has increased productivity and self-organization. We had an opportunity to listen to ourselves, to our biological clock and work according to our chronotype. During peak activity hours, productivity increases and less time is spent on the same amount of work.
Social jetlag in most people isn’t that great and varies within an hour. Less than 20% have two hours of internal and external time divergence, and very few have three hours of internal time divergence. Common sense suggests that it is much more hygienic to find a job closer to home and agree to start at 11 am, rather than at 9 am (and finish, respectively, two hours later), than to force yourself to go to bed and get up, overcoming a natural predisposition. But such an opportunity isn’t always there, and not every manager will agree to such conditions.