The Joy and Beauty of Sleep

There is nothing more dreamy than snuggling up under a down comforter with your favorite jammies ( or better yet sans jammies), a cool breeze, a dark room and nothing on your mind but sweet slumber. Sound familiar? Probably not as it turns out almost 80% of us Americans do not get enough sleep!

In honor of World Sleep Day this Friday, March 15th, we thought it important to talk about this often neglected, but top priority subject. So much so that we are going to two part this! First we are going to get your attention with some sobering facts about the down side of neglecting this all important act, and then in our next blog post we are going to dish up some wonderful tips and tricks along with really valuable resources to get you back on track. If you are in the 20% that does get to dreamland with out a struggle, then feel free to snooze right through this!

sleep stats

Imagine driving your car with the LOW FUEL light on all the time, or the LOW TIRE PRESSURE light on ( I know New England winters mean it’s on alot!), or always skipping a meal, even though you are hungry. While you can do all this, eventually something is going to hit the fan. That’s just what happened to Ariana Huffington (only it involved the corner of a desk, a broken bone and some stitches in her face) and we will get to that in a second. Here are some sobering stats on the state of Americans and their relationship (or lack there of) with sleep.

~ American’s general get less than 7 hours a sleep per night. That’s one to two hours shy of what we should get. By the end of the week, you have lost a day’s worth of sleep! Less than a century ago we got an average of two more hours of sleep per night, but with the creation of electricity, our cities and our bedrooms are brighter than ever.

~ Fatigue is responsible for over one million car accidents a year. The Monday after Day Light Savings time changes shows a 25% increase in heart attacks and fatal car crashes.

~ Less than 6 hours a night of zzzzzz puts us a much greater risk for depression, anxiety, obesity and stroke.

In Tokyo a man standing while sleeping
Inemuri is translated in Japanese as “Sleeping While Present”

In Tokyo, almost 40% of the population gets less than 6 hours of sleep per night. Public dozing is acceptable

~ 97% of teenagers do not get enough sleep! Read that again!

97% of Teens do not get enough sleep
97% of Teens do not get enough sleep

~Animals will die of sleep deprivation before they will die of starvation

Sleeping Pug Dog

~Sleeping pills (including melatonin) and sleeping aids are at an all time high world wide. Loosing sleep is also a very costly business

The cost of not sleeping
Photo courtesy of National Geographic

~Compounding evidence points to the importance of sleep in warding off Alzheimers. While we are awake, neurons are very tightly packed, but while we sleep some brain cells can reduce their size by up to 60% which allows for widening between the spaces. These spaces are perfect for dumping metabolic cell waste, most notably the well know beta- amyloid, or sticky plaques, that are thought to contribute to dementia related diseases. Only during sleep can this beta-amyloid be washed away.

image of heads
photo courtesy of Biovendor

Alright, so it can’t be all bad news, can it? Certainly an occasional all-nighter or jet lag due to travel can’t be the end of the world, right? And the answer is, of course, no. We are a resilient bunch and evolution is forgiving. A few bad nights here and there are not going to get you fired or make you fail a class. The problem is we humans sometimes wear our lack of sleep as a badge of honor. It’s just the thing to prove we are busy and productive and don’t have time for the frivolous stuff.

Enter Ariana Huffington and her recent crusade on the importance of sleep. After a sleep deprived accident at work, she vowed to change her habits and help change the habits of others.

Check out this short and humorous Ted talk on the importance of sleep being important.

Ariana Huffington
How to Sleep your Way to the Top

So, what could all of this talk on sleep have to do with Joy and Design? Well just about everything! If we can add just 60 minutes of sleep to our day, we are much more likely to make wise and creative decisions and find more joy in life. If we can design a space for ourselves and our families that is conducive towards getting those life saving zzzzzz’s, we are all the better for it.

In our next blog we will show you some wonderful ways to get yourself, and your loved ones, back on track. How to create a sanctuary for slumber (spoiler alert we are going to relo your devices big and small! But, for the grown ups, we can replace it with romance, promise!) and resources that make getting to sleep and staying a sleep as easy as counting sheep.

suspended boat bed
Next week we talk about the benefits of rocking to sleep!

Until then….sweet Dreams!