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Health & Fit Fitbit's Lead Sleep Research Scientist Shares His Nighttime Routine

22:50  08 november  2019
22:50  08 november  2019 Source:   prevention.com

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Welcome to Sleep Diaries, where interesting people share a week’s worth of late-night habits. They’ll tell you, the reader, how they wrap up their day, how they get to sleep, stay asleep or fall back asleep, and how they feel when they wake up in the morning. Why? Because sleep is America’s Most Wanted thing. We chase after it like an elusive elixir that'll make us look younger and feel less stressed. (Maybe because it will.) We thought by getting people to share what works for them—and doesn’t—it might help you find better ZZZs. Or at least give you something entertaining to read. This week, we have Dr. Conor Heneghan, Lead Sleep Research Scientist at Fitbit.

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a man sitting on a bed: He has one rule: No light allowed.© Tetra Images - Getty Images He has one rule: No light allowed.

Monday: Regulate your bedroom temp

I usually take the dog out for a walk around 7:30 p.m., after dinner. Tonight my wife joined me and we caught up on all that went on during our busy first day of the week. I got in bed at 9:30 p.m., which is pretty normal for me, with lights out by 10:15 p.m. to aim for eight hours of sleep. We keep our bedroom temperature regulated to 72 degrees as a compromise. If I had my way, it’d be even cooler! We also have blackout curtains and leave the doors shut to keep the room as dark as possible (I’m extra sensitive to light.)

Tuesday: Limit caffeine and alcohol intake

Today was a particularly busy day at the office, and when that happens I like to wind down by playing a bit of piano—anything from classical to pop covers (Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol is a favorite). I try to pay attention to caffeine and alcohol intake during the evening hours, but I enjoyed a glass of white wine at dinner. (I’m more sensitive to reds.) I never have coffee after work. I keep it to one double espresso in the morning. I’m a little restless as I get into bed and try to get to sleep tonight—but my Fitbit helps me avoid stressing too much about it. I know that if I get at least 6.5-7 hours a night, I’ll be OK in the morning.

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a close up of a device: Fitbit Versa 2 Health & Fitness Smartwatch © amazon.com Fitbit Versa 2 Health & Fitness Smartwatch

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Wednesday: Avoid exercise after 9 p.m.

Even when I’m tempted to sleep in, our data at Fitbit has found that a consistent bed and wake time can help improve sleep quality—so I was up and out at 6:10 a.m. to get ready and catch my train to the office. It’s challenging to fit in exercise during the week, but tonight I snuck in a quick run around 8:30 p.m. I try not to exercise any later than that, as it can impact my ability to fall asleep. (If you do exercise late at night, swimming is a great way to regulate your body temperature before bed, as opposed to high intensity sports like running or basketball.) But that pushes the night into a late one, and I don't fall asleep until after midnight.

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a man lying on a bed:

Thursday: Take melatonin when you feel restless

Tonight I had a work event—I usually have one at least once per week—so I got home a little later than usual. I took the dog out for a walk, hoping it would help me transition out of work mode, but I was still a little restless once I got into bed. I had a bit of melatonin to fix the problem, which I sometimes take at home. Ambien and other meds are useful for jet lag but they can make me groggy the next day, so I don’t like to chance it on a week night.

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a screenshot of a cell phone: Conor Sleep Score 1.PNG© Fitbit Conor Sleep Score 1.PNG

Friday: Tracking your sleep will give you good ideas

In looking back at my Sleep Score for the work week, I ranged within "Fair" every night. (My score usually ranges between 69-72, but the global average Sleep Score is 74, so even I have some work to do to improve!) Paying attention to this has really helped me develop better sleep habits over time. In addition to the blackout curtains and regulated room temperature, I sometimes sleep with an eye mask to block out light if my wife is up late reading before bed. Tonight, we enjoyed a dinner out and then I got under the sheets and looked forward to sleeping in on a Saturday.

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Getting a good night's sleep could improve gut health .
New preliminary research has found that a bad night's sleep appears to have a negative effect on gut health, which in turn, could lead to other health issues. "Getting a good night's sleep can lead to improved health, and a lack of sleep can have detrimental effects. We've all seen the reports that show not getting proper sleep can lead to short term (stress, psychosocial issues) and long-term (cardiovascular disease, cancer) health problems. We know that the deepest stages of sleep is when the brain 'takes out the trash' since the brain and gut communicate with each other. Quality sleep impacts so many other facets of human health.

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