The science of sleep is evolving at a rapid pace and our collective understanding of its role in health has grown substantially. Sleeping is no longer regarded as an inert activity. We know now that the body is busy repairing and maintaining vital systems – a process that’s integral to our health and wellbeing.
All this new-found knowledge has inspired a lot of innovation in the sleep landscape. Be on the forefront of what’s coming your way this year, from hot trends to cool new products.
They started to take off last year and 2019 promises to be an even bigger year for this innovative sleep solution. Never heard of weighted blankets? They help soothe sleepers through deep pressure touch and compression therapy. As Dr. clinic psychologist Lynelle Schneeberg, also director behavioral sleep program, The Sleep Center at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, explains: “Weighted blankets do feel good to most people because the pressure they provide is often quite calming (the way a hug or a massage can be). Some people find that they feel less restless in bed, too, when they use them.”
It’s the negative physical and mental impact of an erratic sleep schedule, and typically refers to the impact of skimping on sleep during the week and sleeping very late on weekend. Like regular jet lag, subjecting yourself to drastic changes in when and how long you sleep, creates significant stress on your body. Christopher Lindholst, CEO of MetroNaps and nap expert suggests going to bed and waking up at more or less the same time every day, even on the weekends.
“Binge sleeping on Saturday and Sunday mornings is not a good idea,” he says. “If you do that, by the time you get to Monday, you’ve essentially given yourself jet lag without traveling, because your body and mind now expect that you should be sleeping until 10am instead of your normal weekday 7 a.m. It isn’t surprising that some people find it difficult to get out of bed on Mondays under these circumstances.”
Instead, he recommends taking a long nap on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. You want to target 90 minutes, which is about a full sleep cycle, so you capture all sleep types and yet avoid too much sleep inertia (grogginess) upon waking up.
Less than one-third of Americans describe their wake-up experience as good, according to a survey conducted by French firm Withings. That means there’s a lot of people starting their day feeling somewhat miserable. With that in mind, expect to see more technology geared to better mornings.
Take the free sleep app, Sleepzy, for example. When you put your phone next to your bed, it analyzes your sleep and wakes you during your lightest sleep phase 30 minutes before your alarm is set to go off. Another option is the Phillips Wake Up Light Alarm, which uses a simulated sunrise to coax you out of your slumber.
With more people trying to avoid taking sleeping pills in favor of a more natural route, some 3.1 million Americans are using melatonin, a sleep-boosting hormone that’s available over the counter. Sales are expected to jump another 12% over the next three years. As a result, there’s more ways to take melatonin. It comes in fast dissolving tablets in doses up to 10 mg or as a liquid for non-pill fans. Natrol has just introduced tasty strawberry-flavored Gummies that are made with organic sweeteners, non-GMO and vegetarian in 5 mg and 10 mg strengths.
With the federal government projecting to legalize CBD oil at the end of the year, 2019 is poised to be a big year for one of the non-psychoactive cannabinoids found in hemp and cannabis. CBD oil has been shown to help those with chronic pain get better quality sleep. It’s also known for its ability to promote sleep by lessening anxiety, easing anxiety and curbing insomnia.
One look at bleary-eyed parents and you know there are sleep issues at home. Christine Brown, a certified child sleep consultant and founder of Bella Luna Sleep Consulting in Nashua, NH, says she’s seeing an emerging trend toward moms and dads looking to sleep coaches to help their children (and themselves) get more sleep. “I’m seeing month over month growth with parents at their wits end with trying to figure their children’s sleep and their busy lives.”
As the research shows, sleep is not an inactive time for the body or the mind. Some studies suggest you can use your slumber time to think through issues. Sleep expert Kimberly Friedmutter, a UCLA Health System board member, recommends writing down any questions, concerns or worries on a piece of paper before bedtime. “Your subconscious is a great problem solver and loves to work on solutions while you sleep,” she says. Let your subconscious mind do the heavy lifting so you can get the healing, restful sleep you need. When you wake, you’ll have answers and resolutions to the issues that could have kept you up all night.
While pajamas made from cotton are very popular, merino wool is coming on strong as a sleep-boosting material. A study by the University of Sydney in Australia showed that participants wearing wool PJs fell asleep in just 12 minutes compared with 22 to 27 minutes for those wearing cotton or polyester. Its success comes from the very fine, soft fibers, breathability and better thermoregulation properties of merino wool. Of course, science says there’s still nothing better than sleeping naked.
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