Review of The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time by Arianna Huffington Rating *** 1/2
I consider sleep to be the single most important factor in achieving better health. As a professional pilot who travels between timezones regularly, I’ve become somewhat of a sleep expert. I picked up the audio version of this book to compare what I’ve learned over the years to what the author had to say on the topic.
Author Arianna Huffington does a commendable job of highlighting the benefits of getting more sleep and the myriad of issues that arise when we don’t get enough. She also offers a multitude of suggestions on how to get better quality sleep. Her approach was to list every technique she learned from her personal experiences, along with what she picked up through her research. That attempt to list every conceivable suggestion to help people get better sleep meant that the author had to gloss over some of the more useful techniques. I’ll use the remainder of this review to share what I’ve learned.
It starts with your sleep environment. If you want better sleep, I suggest the following: a comfortable bed, a neck supporting pillow (I use a seed pillow), a quiet room, and a temperature between 69 to 71 degrees. Additionally, sleeping alone will always provide better sleep.
Next on the importance list is light. If your sleep schedule is not consistent, you can trick your brain using blue blocker lenses. I can’t go to sleep if I’m not tired. If I wear blue-light-blocking glasses two hours before I need to go to sleep, It works as well as taking a melatonin pill but without the side effects. If I need to use an electronic device, I’ll turn on night mode. Lastly, the room where you sleep has to be completely dark. Rather than spend a fortune on room darkening blinds and window coverings, I wear a sleep mask.
There are times, however, when all of the above is still not enough. I can’t shut my brain down. That’s when sound comes into play. At home, I’ll use my smart speaker. On the road, I’ll use my phone. The idea is you want to let your mind focus on the sounds rather than all of the other pressing issues going on in your brain. What types of sounds are best? I put them into three categories: white noise, mood or meditation sounds, and orchestrated music. You don’t want to be listening to anything with lyrics, drums, bass, or strong melodies. I’ve found that music with orchestration works best for me. I’ve put together hours-long playlists of movie soundtracks. My brain seems to focus on all the different instruments.
Lastly, I have a suggestion for waking up. When you wake up to an alarm clock, you are technically sleep deprived. But you still have to do it. You can make the transition from sleep to awake a little less jarring if you wakeup one side of your brain before the other. To better illustrate what I’m talking about, do the following: Get into a dark room. Cover both eyes. Wait a minute or two. Now turn on a single bright light like a flashlight pointed right at you. Let the light into just one eye. You will discover that letting light into one of your eyes will result in agitation while letting the light into the opposite eye will be much less annoying. It’s different for everyone. For me, letting light into my right eye while keeping my left eye covered works best. The left side of the brain wakes up before the right side. It makes the transition to wakefulness a little less jarring.