Prior to this week’s happy hour segment on Trending with Timmerie, Timmerie surveyed her social media audience to ask them what they believed was getting in the way of their happiness. The majority of responders said that they believed they themselves were the root of the struggle, mainly their impatience or their poor outlook and reactions. There was this theme among the answers of these issues being connected with restlessness and physiological issues.
“Did you know that some of the leading causes behind both adult and teenage chronic pain, depression, anxiety, suicide, traffic deaths, opioid addiction, anger, ADHD, and a number of other things (exhaustion) … the leading [cause] behind many of these things is sleep,” explained Timmerie. Joining Timmerie on the show was Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, U.S. Army Veteran, the top law enforcement trainer in the country, and author of books such as “On Killing”, “Stop Teaching Our Kids to Kill”, and “Assassination Generation”.
Lt. Col. Grossman agreed with Timmerie’s initial points, saying that we are facing a global epidemic of sleep deprivation as we have never seen before. As the statistics show, sleep deprivation is very closely linked with suicide, and both are skyrocketing. Not to mention, there is now a myriad of new technologies that have a stranglehold on our attention and keep us from getting things we need, like sleep. There are TV streaming services to binge-watch shows, there are new video games and virtual reality consoles, and of course, there is social media which is a black hole for time.
“It is a key factor in the increase in suicides. The new factor, it’s a key factor in traffic deaths which are the two main killers of our kids. And then, we’ve got the other dynamic of sleep deprivation creating chronic pain. When you look at the opiate epidemic, why opiates? Prescription opiates have always been there. Why are they the drug of choice? Well, sleep deprivation creates chronic pain. And add to that this horrendous caffeine abuse and it’s just a bad quality sleep.”
Recently, Mattress Firm ran a series of commercials starring Liev Schreiber in which they talk about the concept of junk sleep. Junk sleep is the type of sleep that leaves you groggy, hazy, impersonal, cranky, impatient, and forgetful. It featured goofy characters doing things like forgetting their laptop on the bus, sleepwalking, and forgetting to put on work clothes before biking to work. While it was portrayed in a humorous way, the concept of junk sleep is real and it’s having a huge effect on the mental state of Americans.
While Mattress Firm was obviously advertising mattresses and beds as the solution to this disturbing new epidemic, Lt. Col. Grossman had other ideas. He brought up this concept he developed while training law enforcement and military operatives that he called “sleep hygiene”. Sleep hygiene encompasses how long you’re sleeping and in what conditions you’ve been sleeping.
To combat not getting enough sleep from a quantitative perspective, Lt. Col. Grossman recommends a fitness tracker. A fitness tracker will tell you how long you’re unconscious each night and if you’re not getting enough, it’ll let you know. “It will tell you, ‘You’ve only been sleeping four hours a night for the last two months. You can’t keep going that way.’”
There are three things he recommends we do to enhance our sleeping conditions. The first is to make sure that we’re sleeping in complete darkness. The darkness provides a visual signal for our bodies that it’s time to power down and recharge and the lack of light will keep our eyes from being stimulated. If need be, he recommends using a sleeping mask too, to further reduce light.
The second thing he recommends is using some form of white noise. It could be a fan, a vent, a humidifier, or a white noise machine. White noise provides a buffer in between complete silence and relatively shocking sound waves that might disturb our sleep. Music would be too stimulating, and complete silence is too vulnerable to aural interruption.
And the last thing he recommends is keeping the room cool. Cooler temperatures increase the production of melatonin, a sleep hormone that helps keep you asleep throughout the night. Sleep deprivation is not only inconvenient but it’s dangerous. It increases the aging process and eighteen hours without sleep is approximately equivalent to having a BAC of 0.08, the legal threshold for what is considered impaired. Your judgment is no longer sound once you deprive yourself of sleep.
Lt. Col. Grossman said his father started smoking when he was five years old. Tobacco companies didn’t care. Social media companies, video game companies, and entertainment companies are the modern equivalent. “They’re not going to tell you, ‘You’ve been on social media for 36 hours straight. You need to go get some sleep.’” If you’ve found yourself getting bad or insufficient sleep, consider this your “wakeup call”. Go get some sleep.
For more information, listen to the entire segment below:
Tune in to Trending with Timmerie weekdays at 6pm CT