Are You Getting Twinkie Sleep?

Are You Getting ‘Twinkie’ Sleep?

Gasp…..yes!

Have you ever woken up after what you feel was an adequate number of hours of sleep, but didn’t feel rested?

My husband and I have had discussions about this over recent months, and it’s a question well worth diving into.

Sleep is so important – for energy, learning, focus, efficiency, growth, healing, efficient fat burning, muscle retention, cancer prevention, and so much more.  Shawn Stevenson, author of “Sleep Smarter”, in an interview as part of the Focus Productivity Summit, stated that he believes sleep is more important for your overall health than nutrition and exercise combined.  I believe it.  He stated three facts about sleep that are worth noting:

  1.  Our brains will lose information if we do not get enough sleep,.

  2. Lack of sleep makes it easier for us to lose focus.

  3. A good night of sleep will make us noticeably more efficient.

So many of us simply don’t get enough.  Or, we do get enough, but it’s, as Stevenson termed it, ‘twinkie’ sleep.  That term just stuck with me.  What does he mean by ‘twinkie?’.   When it comes to eating, we have learned over time that it’s not simply about the balance between the number of calories in and calories out.  We have to consider the quality of the calories or our health will suffer tremendously.  Same goes for sleep.  It is not simply about the number of hours of sleep we get each night.  It’s also importantly about the quality of the sleep we get.  8 hours of poor quality sleep is like eating a certain number of calories of a toxic twinkie – both have a negative impact on our health.

I’m realizing that, though I get enough sleep when I count up the hours, it is most definitely twinkie sleep, and here is a major reason why:

The big ‘no no’ that my husband told me I was guilty of is looking at a blue light screen before bed.  The artificial blue light emitted by screens actually tricks our bodies into thinking it’s daytime and not only does this trigger an increase in daytime hormones like cortisol but it suppresses melatonin.  Stevenson, in his book, “Sleep Smarter: 21 Essential Strategies to Sleep Your Way to a Better Body, Better Health and Bigger Success,” cites a study at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston that found that the use of light-emitting electronic devices in the hours before bedtime can adversely impact overall health, alertness and the circadian clock that synchronizes the daily rhythm of sleep.  In the study, iPad readers took longer to fall asleep, felt less sleepy at night, secreted less melatonin and had shorter REM sleep compared to test subjects who were assigned to read regular printed books.  AND, the iPad readers were more tired than book readers the following day, even if both got a full 8 hours of sleep.  No wonder I was feeling so tired some days after getting ‘enough’ sleep!

Obviously sleep is a huge topic and I’ve only addressed a small but relevant portion of it as it has impacted my life and my health.  I know I’m not alone in the ‘blue light’ struggle.  All I need to do is look around me to know that it is an issue in many homes.   In light of this information, what are some good next steps? Shawn Stevenson says that the best decision is to turn off all screens at least 90 minutes before bedtime in order to allow melatonin and cortisol levels to normalize.  I’m working on that, for both myself and my kids.  My next best step after I learned all of this was to adjust the settings on my iphone and my ipad so that the blue light is turned off at a designated time.  I was discouraged to find that my phone, an apple 5C, doesn’t have this capability.  So I made the decision to keep it away from my bedside at night.  Then it broke, and my new phone is set to turn the blue light off at 8 PM every night.  Love it!  http://www.imore.com/night-shift If you have a Mac, there is a free application called f.lux that automatically eliminates the problematic blue light from your computer screen at a certain time each day.  You can get similar things for your smartphone and other devices too.  I encourage you to think more about your sleep and your screen habits before bed.  And if you have kids, set the night shift on their devices immediately.  If you can’t figure it out, as your 5 year old and he/she will probably be able to show you 🙂 It will only take a minute and will reap huge health benefits immediately!!

If you are interested in learning more about sleep, here are some helpful links:

  1.  Sleep in the Bible by Dr. Page http://www.allaboutgod.com/sleep-in-the-bible.htm#
  2. An article by Dr. Daniel Amen on the importance of getting good sleep.  http://www.amenclinics.com/blog/importance-getting-good-sleep/?utm_campaign=YBAIB&utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=30371105&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-9Dm1vT2zfPNFedCCd-I9g-zefhrcZ9C2kHwcTxkatS9q4YHZKRkL_usaSk8DDFwkiXZjY35D7NlrlxYSH_-q_c5sYPAA&_hsmi=30371105

And finally, here’s a great article written by Greg Laurie that I pray will minister to anyone whose worries keep them up at night.  It’s called, “God Works the Night Shift”. https://www.harvest.org/devotions-and-blogs/daily-devotions/2011-08-27