Let’s face it, between travel and event planning, events professionals definitely aren’t getting enough sleep – and that’s not always our fault. There are a lot of things that can throw off your circadian rhythm and make it difficult to sleep even when you aren’t on the road or stressing about tomorrow’s to-do list. We’re all well aware of the importance of sleep as well as the dangers of sleep deprivation but how can we make sure that we’re getting the right quality and the right quantity?
Here are a few tools to help:
Getting to sleep
A lot of people don’t realize just how sensetive we are to things like light and noise. Studies have demonstrated that the blue-light from our devices can be one of the biggest culprits of sleep deprivation. The blue light-waves from artificial lighting and electronic devices can have suppressive effects on melatonin secretion. However, that’s not the only big sleep disruptor we have to deal with, there’s also the issue of noise. The National Sleep Foundation has found that noises as low as 40 decibels and as high as 70 decibels can be enough to keep us awake. These tools help combat these issues.
- F.lux – F.lux is an app available for desktops (Windows and Mac) and iPhone (if you’re an Android user, use Twilight). The app makes the color of your device’s screen adapt to the time of day so that as the sun sets your screen automatically dims and decreases the amount of blue light hitting your eyes.
- Sound Machine – Whether you’re traveling to a big noisy city or you just happen to live in a noisy environment, a sound machine can help cut the noise by producing a soothing consistent sound. Marpac has been making sound machines since 1962 and have a line of products to suit every need (they even have small travel-sized sound machines).
- NightWave – Sometimes counting sheep just doesn’t cut it. A tool like NightWave produces a soft light that emits at various intervals. The user simply syncs up their breathing with the light and is guided through a pre-sleep routine that is meant to be calming and ultimately sleep inducing. It’s ideal for those of us who’s minds like to start racing the moment our head hits the pillow.
- Deep Breathing Apps – Another way to help prepare your body for a good night’s rest is to perform some breathing exercises. An app like Breathing Zone (available on both iPhone and Android) uses clinically proven therapuetic breathing exercises to help you decrease your heart rate and achieve a completely relaxed state.
Tracking your sleep
Sleep tracking can be an incredibly valuable tool in helping you to determine your sleeping patterns. Do you sleep better when you go to bed earlier? Later? What effect does exercise have on your ability to sleep? How often do you toss and turn throughout the night? Sleep tracker can help you figure out what works best for you in terms of developing good sleeping patterns.
- Fitness Monitors – Fitness monitors like Fitbit and Jawbone do much more than just count your steps and track your workouts. They can also help you to track your sleep. Both devices are typically worn on the rest as you sleep so they notice any time you toss or turn throughout the night and can show you data collected throughout the night in a handy graph. They also have an alarm feature that can be set to wake you at a specific time using vibrations.
- SleepCycle – There are a number of apps available that can help you to get better sleep. One of the best is SleepCycle. The SleepCycle app has an easy to use interface and a good feature-set that makes it useful for anyone interested in learning more about their sleeping patterns. The app is simple to use as well, you simply plug in your phone and tuck it under your pillow and throughout the night it analyzes your sleep. Over time you can get an idea of how long your typical REM cycle lasts, your level of sleep quality, how things like caffeine and heart rate affect your sleep, etc.
- Smart Watch Sleep Apps – Smart Watches have even gotten a nod from creators of sleep apps. Beddit is the first sleep tracking app to be integrated with the Apple Watch and can even alert you to let you know the best times to take a nap! Android users can turn to Sleep as Android to track their sleeping patterns.
Sometimes evenwhen you’ve managed to get a full night of sleep, you still wake up feeling quite groggy and still a little tired. This isn’t always because of how much sleep you got but because of when you woke up (usually in the middle of a REM cycle). REM is a vital part of your sleeping pattern, it’s usually when the brain is most active (storing information, repairing cells, etc.). If you wake in the middle of a REM cycle, it can disrupt your brain’s natural processes and can cause you to feel groggy or sleepy even when you’ve gotten enough sleep. Luckily, devices like the Aura and the Phillips Wake Up Light can help.
- Aura – The Aura has many of the features discussed above and then some. It is a wake up light and sound system that monitors your envirnoment and your movement throughout the night. Instead of waking you with a startling alarm sound, it uses light to create a sunrise effect in order to gently stir you from you sleep at the ideal time between REM cycles.
- Phillips Wake Up Light Plus – The Phillips Wake Up Light Plus is a light alarm that works similarly to Aura (but without the sleep monitoring features). The lamp can simulate both dawn and dusk to help your body drift off to sleep and wake gradually.
Sleep is an incredibly important part of health so if you’re not getting enough, it may be well worth it to invest in a few of these tools. And remember, you should never be so busy that you don’t have time to take care of yourself.
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