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Four ways technology is making us lose sleep (DW#708)

To recap our discussion about technology and sleep, here are the four ways that our screens are keeping us awake at night:

1. They Suppress Melatonin.

2. They Keep Your Brain Alert.

3. They Wake You Up.

4. They are hard to control especially when you are tired

So what are we to do?

To start with, let us consider setting ourselves a "tech curfew" at the very least an hour before bedtime. In other words, we stop using all screens an hour before we plan to sleep. This is also called a "digital sunset" when all technology around us goes to sleep well before we do.

For parents of young children, I really hope are already doing this for our children. And that we will consider doing this for ourselves as well.

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The iPhone effect on sleep (DW#706)

while ago, we talked about how having a cellphone within view (even when we are not checking it) impacts the quality of conversation and communication we are having.

It turns out that something similar is true for sleep.

Even if you are not checking your phone at or just before bedtime, having a phone within view orwithin reach can still impact the duration and quality of your sleep.

Studies on youth have found that sleeping with electronic devices within reach resulted in nearly an hour’s worth of difference in sleep for teens and preteens. It appears that youth (and presumably adults as well) are unconsciously "tuned in" to the sounds their devices make – even when they are set to vibrate.

The world of social media and WhatsApp we know, does not sleep, especially for those of us who have family and friends spread out all over the world.The chimes and notifications can obviously interfere with switching our brains off since we are left wondering what notifications we...

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Winding down your brain (DW#705)

In the days before technology (not that long ago), we used to unwind for the evening by following some basic bedtime routines: praying, taking a shower, brushing our teeth, putting on sleep clothes, reading or chatting perhaps. This routine would signal to our brain that it is time to go into sleep mode.

Things are quite different in most households today. When we include screen time during this critical "unwinding" period, we are filling our minds with information, knowledge, and thoughts. This often leads to information overload because we are filling our minds with information that our brain must process before it will allow us to sleep. In a sense, this is like drinking an energy drink or an espresso at bedtime!

So while it may seem harmless to knock out a few emails before bed, or have a short (or long) check in with social media, we are keeping our minds engaged and the message that our brains get is that it needs to stay awake and alert.

Of course, if we are watching the news...

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How much light is too much? (DW#704)

Yesterday we talked about how bright light from devices can delay the release of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin.

It is not only technology that is to blame. Artificial light of all types can have this impact.

(Although all wavelengths of light have this effect, blue light is particularly problematic. Blue light is so good at helping us feel awake, it's used in places like factories to help night workers stay alert)

Light is usually measured by the lux (symbol: lx) measuring luminous flux per unit area. It is equal to one lumen per square metre. It is a measure of the intensity, as perceived by the human eye, of light that hits or passes through a surface.

Matthews says: "Even a hint of dim light–8 to 10 lux–has been shown to delay the release of nighttime melatonin in humans. The feeblest of bedside lamps pumps out twice as much: anywhere from 20 to 80 lux. A normally lit living room, where most people reside in the hours before bed, will come in at around 200 lux....

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Devices and the production of melatonin (DW#703)

How exactly does our cell phone interfere with sleep?

In many ways, it turns out. Let’s explore the major ones:

The blue light from technology such as phones, computer screen and televisions suppresses the production of melatonin.

Melatonin is the hormone that controls our sleep/waking cycle or circadian rhythm. In other words, melatonin signals the brain that it is time to sleep.

When our eyes absorb the bright blue light from the devices around us, the release of melatonin is delayed, making it more difficult for people to fall asleep. Reduced melatonin also makes it harder for us to stay asleep. The exposure to light basically wires our brains, increasing alertness rather than relaxation.

It is well documented in research studies that the bright light from phones, tablets and computers blocks the production and release of Melatonin after about 90 minutes of technology use in the evening.

What may be even more alarming is the finding that after five nights of exposure to...

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Let’s talk tech (DW#702)

One of the biggest thieves of sleep is technology.

Our cell phones, tablets, computers and other electronic gadgets have become such a huge part of our daily lives that it’s often really hard to put them down—even at bedtime.

We are so used to keeping our phones besides our bed that we do not consider it to be a big deal.

But it is.

Technology affects our sleep in many more ways than we realize. Whether we are surfing the web, watching a YouTube video, or even just using our phone as an alarm clock, it is impacting the duration and quality of our sleep.

So if you, like many of us, look at your phone the last thing at night, and you are not satisfied with the quality of sleep that you are getting, make the connection between your use of technology and the quality of your sleep.

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The sleep killers (DW#701)

We have been discussing the importance of sleep and how chronic sleep deprivation harms us. This week let us explore why we as a generation and a culture are not getting enough sleep.

Before reading any further, do a quick check in with yourself. Are you among the majority (more than two-thirds) of the modern population that does not get enough sleep? And if so, do you know what compromises your sleep?

Today let us explore the top two reasons why people do not get enough sleep:

1. Simply not valuing sleep. Like everything else, it all starts with our awareness that it matters and why it matters. If we have no idea of the importance of sleep and how the lack of it is impacting us, we will not make any changes to improve our sleeping habits.

2. Inconsistency. We do not follow a consistent sleep schedule. All the leading sleep gurus (including Matthew) tell us that CONSISTENCY is key.

He advises that the MOST important thing to optimize our sleep is to "Stick to a sleep schedule. Go to...

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You are likely not the exception (DW#700)

Regardless of what we hear about other people needing sleep, sometimes we kid ourselves that we can get by with very little sleep (I have been doing exactly that for a long time. My recent foray into this subject is making me much more humble about my sleep needs . . .)

According to our favourite sleep expert, Mathew Walker, the odds that you or I fall into the group of people who can truly thrive on less sleep are incredibly low.

Here is how he puts it: "It is far, far more likely that you will be struck by lightning (the lifetime odds being 1 in 12,000) than being truly capable of surviving on insufficient sleep thanks to a rare gene." In other words, the chances of us trying to live optimally with sleep deprivation are essentially ZERO.

The consequences of chronically depriving ourselves of sleep while kidding ourselves that we don’t need it? Well, they are astonishingly devastating. Sleep deprivation dramatically increases the odds of getting everything – from mood...

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Sleep well, think well (DW#699)

In Brain Rules, 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and SchoolJohn Medina outlines 12 principles for optimal brain health and function.

Guess which principle makes it to the top 3?

Sleep.

The principle he outlines is: Sleep well, think well.

He explains it very simply: Sleep loss = brain drain.

This is especially important for those of us who like to "burn the midnight oil" (students, take note!)

Medina explains: "One study showed that a highly successful student can be set up for a precipitous academic fall just by getting less than seven hours of sleep a night. Take an A student used to scoring in the top 10 percent of virtually everything she does. If she gets just under seven hours of sleep on weekdays, and about 40 minutes more on weekends, her scores will begin to match the scores of the bottom 9 percent of individuals who are getting enough sleep."

Ouch! It appears that most students would do better to sleep one more hour than to spend that time studying....

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Rest enough to do deep work (DW#698)

Before we get to today's DW, a few points of clarification from yesterday:
1) I am NOT a fan of Jeff Bezos
2) I am NOT a fan of Amazon or its oppressive business practices
And I still believe that we can learn from everyone. Although our definition and their definition of success may be vastly different, we can still appreciate the way CEOs of wealthy corporations manage their time and prioritize self-care.

I also wanted to re-iterate how blessed I feel when one or more of you engage with DWs and challenge what is expressed or hold me accountable for my words. When we build a community that cares enough to give valuable feedback and hold each other accountable, it can help us grow and remain humble and authentic - so a huge thank you!

And now, for today's DW!

Have you noticed, that you can get high quality work done in a shorter period of time when you are focused?

Cal Newport in his brilliant book, Deep Work has come up with an equation to explain this:

High Quality Work Produced =...

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