Sleep Smarter by Shawn Stevenson

Book Review

If you talk with me for any length of time, there is one thing you will quickly notice.  I love to learn.  These days I learn in two main ways… First, I listen to a TON of podcasts, probably 10-12 a week.  Recently, I heard the book I am about to review pop up in multiple different podcasts.  When multiple different people suggest a book, I take notice.  My second way of learning is reading.  Now, admittedly I don’t read as much as I would like.  Motherhood has a way of cutting into leisure time.   This book, however is an easy, fun and applicable read.

Lots of books give lots of suggestions based on the author’s opinion.  But, what I like about this one is that he firmly backs up his assertions with lots of scientific studies.  I want to highlight some of his suggestions, but not give away all his secrets.  I actually sleep annoyingly well, but one can always improve.  I have enacted several of the tips and have had sounder sleep as evident on my FITBIT data.   I strongly encourage you to buy the book and read it yourself.  To be clear, I don’t know him, and I have no financial interest in recommending this book.

What does sleeping have to do with dermatology?  Lots.  Many skin rashes impact the ability to sleep soundly.  Plus, lack of sleep makes the skin more irritable and itchy.  Not to mention those old assertions about needing our beauty sleep.

So here, we go.  The book has 21 tips for better, more efficient more restful sleep.  I will hit the top ones, and you can get the book to read the rest…

1 – Get more sunlight – What?  Now that does not mean bake.  Optimally, we should get outdoor sun exposure first thing in the morning to maintain a correct circadian rhythm.

2 – Avoid screen time in the evening – Here, the focus is on blue light from electronic screens at least 90 minutes before bedtime.  This also interrupts our circadian rhythm.  As an aside, studies have now should that blue light also has a negative impact on our skin.  I will do an upcoming blog post on limiting our blue light exposure.

3-Avoid caffeine in the afternoon and evening – I know I went to medical school, but I had forgotten that caffeine has a half-life of up to eight hours.  I have an admitted problem with drinking way too much diet pepsi.  It is my vice.  I used to drink it up until I went to bed.

4- Create a sleep sanctuary – Make your bedroom a sanctuary for sleep ( and marital activity) only.

5- Eliminate all light in the bedroom – Black out curtains, nightlights etc.

6-Exercise – What interested me here was the data on time of day for exercise.  For sleep cycle maintenance and improved athletic performance, the data recommends working out in the early morning.

7-Stay cool – His data strongly shows that the optimal sleep temperature is 68 or below.  BRRRR Rabbit!  Have I mentioned that I have a heated mattress pad that I use all year long.  This will be a hard habit to break.

8- Go to bed early  – UGH!  The data he presents demonstrates that the most restorative sleep occurs between 10pm and 2am.

9- Don’t keep your phone by your bed.

10- Avoid alcohol consumption – No drinks at least 3 hours prior to going to sleep.

11- Get a good mattress.

12 – Calm down the internal chatter – with meditation (or prayer).

13- Go to bed at approximately the same time each evening and get up early.

14- Get a massage

15 –Where loose, cool clothing. This goes against my suggestion that I often make to patients to wear fitted water wicking clothing to bed to prevent them from itching at night.

Hope you find this book as helpful and interesting as I did.  Here is a link to his site.

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