World Sleep Day – Zzzzzzz

World Sleep Day is March 15th , just a couple of days away. I wanted to give you some warning, so you don’t miss it. “World Sleep Day® is designed to raise awareness of sleep as a human privilege that is often compromised by the habits of modern life.” Boy, does that statement ring true. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) considers insufficient sleep a national epidemic in the USA.

An off-watch nap on a TransAtlantic crossing

An off-watch nap on a TransAtlantic crossing

I remember being so tired during my working career that I’d fall fast asleep in airports… while sitting up. Mouth open, drool trailing down my chin… I’m sure I painted quite the professional picture. I could have probably slept hanging from a hook in those days. I was always sleep-deprived. The pressures of work, family, finances, just daily life in general were enough to rob me of precious sleep at night and I never seemed able to catch up. Or prior to that, what about multiple nightly feedings for newborns. I never thought I’d get a full night’s sleep ever again. For that matter, more recently, being on Nine of Cups with watch every three hours 24x7 on long passages was a sleep challenge at times. I’m sure you can all relate to being sleep deprived due to work, family life and just sleeplessness for no apparent reason.

8 Ways to Celebrate World Sleep Day

How do you celebrate World Sleep Day? Well, this day provides a perfect opportunity to check out your sleep habits and effect a change if it’s necessary. Here’s eight ideas you might consider.

Sometimes even counting sheep doesn’t work.

Sometimes even counting sheep doesn’t work.

  1. Evaluate your caffeine, nicotine and alcohol consumption

    Everyone knows that coffee and other caffeine-rich beverages like tea and soft drinks are stimulants and can keep you awake. Nicotine can do the same. Though alcohol makes some people sleepy, in actuality, it is a stimulant as well and can prevent you from entering deeper, more restful stages of sleep.

  2. Sleep diary

    A sleep diary is a record of your sleep habits and patterns and includes information such as the time you went to bed, how much exercise you did during the day, what meds you take and when and several other criteria. The American Association of Sleep Medicine has a download that might help you get started with your diary.


3. Figuring out how much sleep you need

The amount of sleep you require differs with age, lifestyle and health. Most of us were brought up with the notion that eight hours of sleep per night was adequate. It might just be that you require more to be fully rested. Check out what the US CDC has to offer as to the amount of sleep humans require. It might surprise you.

4. Check out WSD activities in your area.

The World Sleep Day organization offers activities throughout the USA and the 55 countries that participate in the celebration. Their motto for 2019 is “Healthy Sleep. Healthy Aging”.

sleep ZZZ.jpg

5. Plan ahead for sleep.

The National Sleep Foundation offers a bedtime calculator based on the amount of sleep you need. It’s not rocket science… if you want 8 hours of sleep, go to bed 8 hours before you have to get up. Right? Well, it’s probably not quite that easy. The same website will provide lots of insight into how diet, sleep conditions, activity, dreams and much more, affect how long and how well you sleep.

6. Need a new mattress?

Maybe it’s time for a new mattress?

Maybe it’s time for a new mattress?

This should be a no-brainer, but it’s not. How often do people sleep on lumpy, bumpy 10+-year-old mattresses and then complain about sore backs and sleeplessness. If your mattress is the culprit, give it the old heave-ho and find a new, more suitable one. The Better Sleep Council indicates that 7 years is about the limit for a mattress. Their website provides some ways to evaluate your current mattress and some suggestions for buying new. And don’t forget the importance of good pillows!

Garmin Vivofit3 Sleep Monitor

Garmin Vivofit3 Sleep Monitor

7. Sleep Tracking Apps

There are a plethora of sleep tracking apps available today. Just Google ‘sleep apps’ and you’ll be nearly overwhelmed with your findings. I have a sleep app on my Garmin Vivofit3. It tells me how much sleep I’ve had including average deep sleep, average light sleep and average awake minutes. I’m not sure how accurate it is, but when I feel unrested in the morning, I can usually see it reflected in my morning sleep results.

8. Embrace the Spanish Concept of the Siesta

The Spanish call it ‘siesta’; the Italians call it ‘riposo’. It’s a designated time during the day for a rest period. I call it a ‘nap’. The restorative powers of a short nap during the day are well-documented and make good sense. Make sure you don’t nap too long though or you won’t sleep at night.

There you have it… eight ways to celebrate World Sleep Day without even leaving the comfort of your living room sofa. Hopefully I didn’t put you to sleep reading this blog. It’s okay to nod off… just so long as you managed to finish reading. Now, however, you’re free to celebrate by taking a nap.