Blend technology and the traditional to get a better night’s sleep
I mentioned in one of my recent blogs that I had just been in Europe for two weeks. I have never been in another time zone for that long before, and my body certainly let me know it! The first 3-4 days I was in Italy, I struggled to get acclimated to the current time zone. I flew home from London this past Friday, and I THINK I’m just now finally getting to normal in terms of sleeping through the night. It’s been a three-week period of hoping to get four hours of uninterrupted sleep…certainly not enough in my book!
The Centers for Disease Control notes that a third of adults in the U.S. feel they don’t get enough sleep. It’s recommended that adults get at least seven hours of sleep a night. This seems to be the magic number to allow our bodies to recharge, feel rested, keep our immune system bolstered, and have the energy and mental acuity to go about the day.
With all the technology out there in this 24/7 world, it stands to reason that there might “be an app for that”. Well, as it turns out, I was watching Good Morning America this morning and voila! They had a segment on a couple of apps available to help you get that all important slumber. I have nothing invested other than to share what I heard. (I have, however, already downloaded one of these apps and intend to give it a try!)
- Calm This app has a bend on bedtime stories. Being an avid reader, this piqued my interest. The stories you listen to on the app are based on cognitive behavioral therapy to encourage sleep. It’s all about the timbre of the voice you’re listening to (one of the voices you hear reading to you is Matthew McConaughey, for example), cadence, and the actual story itself. Aside from the bedtime stories, there are also breathing exercises to help you relax and ready your body for slumber, and meditation segments as well.
- Sleep Cycle This was the app I downloaded already and intend to try. One of the keys to good sleep is waking up on a regular schedule daily. My body tends to have conditioned itself to do this already over the last 5-6 years. Regardless of when I do go to bed, it seems I always wake up sometime around 7 a.m. Sleep Cycle tracks the time you go to bed, the quality of your sleep, and the amount of time you spend in bed. It will give you percentages on tasks you perform that will help increase sleep quality, like drinking tea or working out, as well as tasks that will hinder sleep—drinking coffee, having a stressful day, or eating too late in the evening. This app uses the mic on your phone to listen to your breathing as you sleep. Why? Breathing rhythm when you sleep is also connected to when you’re in REM “deep” sleep. One of the things the app will do is monitor the right point around your normal target wake-up time to gently waken you during the point where you’re in light sleep vs. REM sleep. This allows your body to emerge from slumber at the best time to start your day. There are a lot of other functions on the app that are fascinating that I intend to explore.
Given that it’s well documented that hot tubbing an hour or so before your scheduled bedtime helps ready your body to relax and get ready for sleep, it stands to reason that incorporating use of the Calm app and its breathing exercises, meditation and bedtime stories after a hot tub soak might actually improve your chances of falling asleep quickly and getting to that precious REM sleep faster. It would also be interesting to head out to the hot tub for your pre-bedtime soak and use Calm’s breathing exercise and meditation functions during your soak. It would seem that doing one or both of those would help your body further reap the benefits of a soak, and really set you up for a terrific night’s sleep.
On the flip side, the Sleep Cycle app could help you track your ongoing sleep patterns, help you identify behavior you should modify or curb to get a better night’s sleep, and see how hot tubbing on one night vs. another is benefitting your body’s ability to get that all important seven hours of shut eye.
Sometimes, technology can work in our favor when it comes to our health & well-being. If you’re one of those folks who, like me, would love to capitalize on a little more of that much-needed slumber, try downloading one or both of these apps and give them a try.
Other tips for a good night’s sleep
- Avoid TV and computers for an hour prior to bedtime
- Eat nothing after 7 p.m.
- Skip caffeine and alcohol in the hours before you hit the sack
- Increase physical activity/exercise during the day
- Make your bedroom a quiet dark relaxing space
- Lower the temperature of your room for sleep
- Have your head hit the pillow for slumber at roughly the same time each night
- Consider aromatherapy made of essential oils to mist your pillow with prior to sleep. One that looks especially good to me is L’Occitane en Provence’s Aromachologie Pillow Mist
Author: Don Riling
Don Riling is the President of Olympic Hot Tub and has been an active member of the hot tub industry for over 20 years. As the company’s owner since 2016, he has continued Olympic’s legacy of promoting health & wellness through hot water & sauna therapy.