Not getting a full night’s sleep is worse for you than you may have known:
- It can alter your genes.
- It makes you unable to read people’s facial expressions, so you overestimate threat.
- It could ultimately even become what triggers Alzheimer’s memory loss.
And it doesn’t stop there.
Research shows a strong relationship between adolescents with sleep problems and self-harming. This may be because teens who don’t get enough sleep get hit on several fronts in their developing brains, including emotional regulation, decision making and risk-taking behavior.
Sleep is crucial to maintaining good health at every age. To that end, we’ve compiled a list of 21 sleep-related blogs that provide tips and ideas on how you can conquer sleep issues, from once-in-a-while bouts of sleeplessness to years-long insomnia.
Sleep ASAP is a sleep management education platform that hopes to achieve two goals: raise awareness about the severity of sleep deprivation and make sleep-management methods accessible worldwide. Right now, there are Sleep ASAP meetup groups in nine cities, including Toronto, Boston, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Seattle, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
The Natural Sleep Company
You’ll have to go to Ireland if you want a bed from The Natural Sleep Company (Ballylanders, Limerick, to be exact), but you can read the team’s sleep expert blog wherever you are. It’s written by people who say they’ve spent years listening to what their customers want and need for a good night’s sleep, and contains nuggets of wisdom such as these:
- Raspberries are a good midnight snack because they’re high in melatonin.
- Stretching before bed eases muscle tension, making it easier to find a comfortable position.
This blog is from a bed company called Happy Beds that delivers throughout the UK. Need a new bed and live on the Isle of Man? You’re in luck; the rest of the world will have to be satisfied with reading their blog, which includes reports on catapulting beds (helpful for those who struggle to get up in the morning), sleep myths, feng shui in the bedroom and tips for better sleep (including nightlights that emit low levels of blue light).
Here’s that catapulting bed, by the way:
In addition to advocating tryptophan-heavy foods (dairy products, dates, chickpeas and peanuts) as nighttime snacks , Dr. Erin Stair notes on her Blooming Wellness blog that some people recommend melatonin, an over-the-counter supplement (also found in our brains) to promote sleep. “It’s very important to have all the lights off when you’re trying to sleep,” Dr. Stair says, because when light hits our retinas, neurons that inhibit the natural production of melatonin in our bodies are activated.
Dr. Ben Kim
This Toronto chiropractor, acupuncturist and health educator has long preached behavior modification first, sleeping pills last when it comes to treating insomnia. He cites studies in his blog posts regarding sleep issues, and then explains the pertinent points and why they’re important.
Take a look at his 2008 post “Why You Should Try to Avoid Shift Work and Irregular Sleep,” where he writes: “This brilliant study highlights the importance of getting restful sleep at night with minimal exposure to light. Doing so is essential to promoting a healthy circadian cycle, which is needed to produce an optimal amount of melatonin, as well as other hormones that are beneficial to health such as growth hormone, testosterone, and erythropoietin.”
The Sleeping Blog
Let Sleeping Blogs Lie is Sharyn (Shaz) Fisher’s blog, which is not only about sleeping, but also about dreaming, waking up and living life. Writing short posts from Australia and using guest articles as well, she covers things such as interesting ways to fall asleep more quickly (a cold bath, anyone?), night time pondering and the personal nature of sleep.
The Insomnia Blog
Michael J. Breus is a clinical psychologist with a specialty in sleep disorders. Known as “The Sleep Doctor,” he’s also got a blog on Psychology Today called Sleep Newzzz and is the author of several sleep-related books, including Beauty Sleep. He talks about cognitive behavior therapy, and how he successfully uses CBT in his practice on a regular basis to alleviate insomnia. The behavioral strategies include sleep restriction, sleep hygiene education, cognitive restructuring, meditation and relaxation training.
Sleeping in Airports
If sleeping in your own comfortable bed at home is hard, spare a thought for the weary traveler suffering yet another delay after already enduring a long flight and layover. Reading your guide to Sleeping in Airports could result in more than just finding humor in the subject of sleeplessness. You’ll find which airlines offer complimentary in-flight massages and which airports have napping facilities.
This blog by Martin Reed, who suffered from insomnia, includes a free sleep training email course that promises to change the way you look at sleep. Martin also tries to challenge what you think you know about insomnia and your own sleep habits. His posts include a look at the effect of salt on insomnia — and by salt, he means anything from ingesting Celtic salt to spending time in salt caves (to breathe in the salt air) to mixing salt with pine extract and bathing in it.
Red Hot Mamas
Founded by Karen Giblin, Red Hot Mamas is a national organization advancing the health and wellness of women through their peri- and postmenopausal years. One noteworthy article explains why sleep disturbances are prevalent among menopausal women (hint: hot flashes. It includes tips on what to do to get comfortable and how to catch some shut-eye.
Harvard Health Blog
Here’s another blog you’ll want to search for sleep-related articles. You’ll find plenty of free information on snoring solutions, the relationship between controlling insomnia and pain, the link between high blood pressure and trouble falling asleep, and when sleeplessness starts with restless legs syndrome. If you’re interested in obtaining access to the locked articles, you’ll have to subscribe for a small monthly fee.
Because one of the usual benefits of meditation is better sleep, it makes sense to include the blog from the people at Headspace, whose stated mission is to get as many people as possible in the world to take 10 minutes out of their day to meditate. One post looks at why we sleep and another, by the same writer, sleep expert Professor Adrian Williams, looks at why we don’t. In addition to the blog, you can download the app or sign up for 10-minute lessons (both are free) to see whether training your mind helps you sleep.
The Sleep Lady
Sometimes, it’s not the adults who can’t drop off — it’s the kids. When you need help getting your children to sleep, Kim West, a clinical social work, can help. Her blog contains advice about co-sleeping, getting baby back to sleep, eliminating bedtime battles with toddlers and answers to common questions from parents about their children’s sleep struggles.
Another blog trying to get whole families back to sleep, Sleep Sisters is run by a team of actual sisters who are also sleep consultants specializing in infants and children. Posting articles that are immediately actionable (10 Things You Can Do Tonight) gives frazzled, sleep-deprived parents hope. There are also more analytical articles — one that looks at a study’s findings that mothers suffering from postpartum depression tend to wake their infants at night, causing them sleep disturbances.
This blog was established as a clinical and educational resource for sleep professionals, with a view to informing its readers about research in sleep medicine as well as to interpret the significance of relevant research. There are many articles dedicated to sleep apnea, including a recent post that discusses the association between the disorder and acid reflux. Also, there is a great post that looks at a headset with a real-time fatigue monitor and alert system that measures for head bobs — that technology has some interesting applications for the long-haul trucking industry.
Sponsored by the National Sleep Foundation, Sleep.org has something for everyone. And we emphasize everyone: University of Alabama professor Natalie Dautovich writes that sleeping in public has apparently become so common that there’s even a day for public napping (February 28). She also touches on the “2 out of 3 rule” popular on some college campuses, which her senior undergraduates described to her: “Students have time for only 2 out of 3 activities — sleeping, socializing, or schoolwork.”
Now in her early 30s, Julie Flygare was a student at Brown University who thought she was battling average college sleepiness. Instead, she was diagnosed with a severe case of narcolepsy with cataplexy. That means she experiences sleepiness combined with muscle weakness when feeling certain emotions. Other symptoms cropped up later on, including hypnagogic hallucinations and sleep paralysis. In addition to her blog, Julie has written an award-winning memoir and is the founder of Project Sleep, a non-profit raising awareness about sleep health and sleep disorders.
The Warm Milk Journal
Written by Debra, who says she was challenged with anxiety and insomnia issues for many years, The Warm Milk Journal includes meditation exercises, tips for insomnia, and an active community of others who suffer from anxiety and insomnia. It’s a feel-good blog that advocates journalling to help with insomnia and has lots of positive affirmations sprinkled throughout.
This blog is from the team at Alaska Sleep Clinic, whose primary focus is diagnosing and treating sleep disorders. One focus of the blog is sleep apnea, which is believed to be a progressive disorder that lies on the extreme end of a spectrum of sleep disordered breathing. For anyone struggling with Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) therapy compliance, there’s a post with tips and tricks to make CPAP treatment easier.
Sleep Well and Live
Wisconsin’s Sleep Wellness Institute blogs about everything sleep-related, from a review of tea remedies for sleep (tested by a CPAP coach) to a look at how light at night can wreak havoc with your sleep. Also, check out the five ways sleep deprivation is impeding your weight loss goals. Other interesting discussions: Why the connection between turkey and a good night’s sleep is a myth, and how advertisers display loud snoring as normal sleep behavior in Nyquil commercials.
This site helps you maintain a daily health practice as an intelligent eater, enduring mover and restorative sleeper. Dan Pardi, the CEO of Dan’s Plan, is passionate about food, movement and sleep. He is also interested in developing low-cost, high value health solutions. His posts include “Is this the purpose of sleep?,” which features a TED Talk on how the brain removes waste products during sleep. He also has a useful two-part series titled “The Freakonomics of Sleep.”
Bonus resource: Watch this seven-minute clip from a 2010 BBC documentary. Journalist Dominik Diamond, who suffered terribly from insomnia, tries a month-long course of sleep restriction therapy prescribed by University of Oxford professor of sleep medicine Colin Espie. It worked, and changed Dominik’s life forever: He says he now sleeps well at night and wakes refreshed every morning.