Weekly Market Update for February 27th, 2024: Sleep hygiene part 4

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The myths and facts behind sleep

Welcome to DAT Freight & Analytics’s six-part series on napping, sleep physiology, scheduling, and trip planning. While aimed at truckers in high-risk operating environments, the information will benefit anyone in the logistics industry equally. This week, we’ll take a deep dive into myths and facts about sleep.

Myth: Your body gets used to a lack of sleep.

Fact: A lack of sleep affects your brain and body.

Research has found both short- and long-term adverse effects of sleep deprivation, proving that your body does not adapt to lack of sleep. 

After a few nights of insufficient sleep, you will likely feel sleepier during the day. This increase in daytime drowsiness may stabilize over weeks or months without enough sleep, but this does not mean that your body is functioning optimally or is effectively adjusting to sleep loss.

Instead, persistent sleep deprivation affects daytime performance and can hinder decision-making, memory, focus, and creativity. With time, insufficient sleep can wreak havoc on diverse aspects of health, including metabolism, the cardiovascular system, the immune system, hormone production, and mental health. Even if it seems like you are getting accustomed to sleeping too little, more severe health problems may accumulate because of your body’s inability to get the rest it needs.

Myth: How long you sleep is all that matters.

Fact: Sleep quality is another critical factor in sufficient rest.

Sleep duration is necessary, but it is not the end-all, be-all. Sleep quality is another critical factor to consider, and it is closely connected with sleep continuity and lack of sleep disruptions. Fragmented sleep marked by numerous awakenings can interfere with the ability to properly move through the sleep cycle, decreasing time spent in the most restorative stages of sleep. For this reason, every person’s goal should be to sleep enough hours and for those hours to include high-quality, uninterrupted sleep.

Myth: If you are having trouble falling asleep, stay in bed until you can.

Fact: Experts recommend getting out of bed if you have spent 20 minutes trying to fall asleep.

Instead of tossing and turning in bed, it can be better to get up, do something relaxing in a quiet and dim setting, such as reading a book – without using your smartphone or other electronic devices – and then try to go back to bed once you begin to feel drowsy.

Experts advise this approach because it is essential to associate your bed with sleep. Staying in bed while struggling to sleep can do the opposite, linking your bed with a feeling of restlessness.

Myth: Alcohol before bed improves sleep.

Fact: Sleep quality declines after drinking alcohol.

A drink or two can be relaxing, inducing drowsiness that initially makes it easier to fall asleep. However, the quality of sleep declines considerably after drinking alcohol, especially in the second half of the night. Consuming alcohol before going to bed can throw off your sleep cycles, make it more likely for your sleep to be interrupted, and may worsen snoring and sleep apnea.

Because of its negative effects on sleep, reducing or eliminating alcohol consumption before bed is recognized as an essential part of sleep hygiene.

Myth: A warm bedroom temperature is best for sleeping.

Fact: Most people sleep best in a bedroom, around 65 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit.

It is essential to find a bedroom temperature that is comfortable for you, but most people find that setting the temperature to mid-60s Fahrenheit is ideal. Although a warm bedroom might feel cozier, studies indicate it is not conducive to sleep. Body temperature drops naturally as part of the physical process of sleep, and a bedroom that is too hot may disrupt that process. Sleeping hot can be bothersome and interfere with sleep by causing unwanted awakenings.

Myth: Sleeping with a light on is harmless.

Fact: It is best to sleep in a room that is as dark as possible.

Even in bed with closed eyes, low light can increase the risk of awakenings and negatively affect your circadian rhythm. Studies have also found that sleeping with too much light in your bedroom can increase eye strain and may be associated with weight gain. 

Sleeping in a bedroom as close to pitch darkness as possible promotes higher-quality sleep and a more stable circadian rhythm. If reducing ambient light is difficult, consider eyes an eye mask.

Myth: Snoring is harmless, and nothing can be done to reduce it.

Fact: Snoring can be addressed, and severe snoring may be a cause of concern.

Light, occasional snoring is typically not a problem, but loud and frequent snoring may indicate some health conditions. If your snoring is loud and frequent, discussing it with your primary care provider is essential.

Chronic or loud snoring may be caused by obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a severe breathing disorder that fragments sleep and prevents a person from taking in the oxygen their body needs. Snoring can also disrupt the sleep of a bed partner or roommate.

Various methods can address snoring depending on its cause. Positive airway pressure (PAP) devices keep the airway open and can help treat OSA. Anti-snoring mouthpieces and mouth exercises can help many people reduce or eliminate snoring; in some cases, losing excess weight can also reduce snoring.

For more myths and facts, visit the National Sleep Foundation here.

Disclaimer: This information is not designed to be a substitute for medical advice from a qualified practitioner or a diversion from the safe operation of motor vehicles. If you have any questions about the safe application of this information at your company, please consult your immediate supervisor. If you have health concerns adversely affecting your sleep, please immediately consult your family doctor. 

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