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4:25 AM Sat, Sept. 22nd

Most sleepless night of year for Arizona, July 13

What impacts sleep; how to improve it

Not to be the bearer of bad news, but if you’re currently in Arizona, tonight may not be your best night of sleep.

At least that’s according to a study released by Sleepopolis, a mattress review and comparison website.

The company analysed the last 30 years of weather data to identify (statistically) when each state will experience the most uncomfortable conditions to get a good night’s sleep, based on a combination of the hottest overnight temperature, the number of hours of sunlight in the day, and the probability of high humidity. For Arizona, that time is tonight, July 13.

Though there is something to be said for how temperature, humidity and sunlight can impact one’s sleep, Carla Draper, a registered polysomnographic technologist (someone who performs sleep studies on people with suspected sleep disorders) and office manager for E Z Sleep Lab in Prescott Valley, finds Sleepopolis’s study to be a bit silly.

“Temperature, humidity and daylight hours can relate to circadian rhythms, but whether or not someone sleeps well is more geared toward their general health,” Draper said.

Additionally, with air conditioning in most households these days, temperature and humidity levels can be easily enough overcome. Daylight hours can be a little more of a challenge, partly because one’s circadian rhythm — or sleep/awake cycle — can shift depending on how long the days are.

“Because there are more daylight hours in the summer, you might simply be doing more each day because you feel like you have more time,” Draper said.

SIGNIFICANCE OF SLEEP

Sleep doesn’t just affect one’s mood and energy level. It can also have a significant impact on one’s health.

“Not getting enough sleep can contribute to an increased chance of obesity, diabetes, heart disorders, all kinds of issues,” Draper said.

Adults should get at least seven to eight hours of sleep each night, she said. And adolescents should get closer to twelve hours.

Oversleeping some nights to make up for poor sleep on other nights is not a way of reaching these minimums, she said.

“You can’t catch up on sleep; there’s no such thing,” Draper said.

But having a night or two of poor sleep is not that big a deal.

“If you’re having difficulty sleeping weeks on end, that’s when it should be a concern,” she said.

HOW TO IMPROVE SLEEP

For those without sleep disorders that may require medical intervention, the best way of ensuring a good night’s sleep is by consciously adjusting one’s routine and/or behavior, Draper said.

This means breaking bad habits that keep you up at night or disrupt your sleep and replacing them with habits that improve your chances of getting and staying asleep.

“Don’t watch TV in bed; don’t look at your phone at night,” Draper said. “Try reading, meditating, dimming your lights; things that help you calm down and relax.”

Even just going to bed at the same time every night and getting up at the same time every day is an effective means of training your brain to adjust its circadian rhythm.

However, breaking bad habits and building good ones doesn’t happen overnight, Draper said. “It takes a lot of time and effort.”

Using substances, such as alcohol or medication, as sleep aids on a regular basis is not recommended, Draper said.

“You don’t want to become dependent on sleep aids to get a good night’s rest,” Draper said. “And these are usually just ways to mask a more serious problem, like sleep apnea.”

Some practical suggestions offered by Sleepopolis to improve one’s sleep are not eating right before bedtime and making sure all curtains are closed properly to stop the sun sneaking in. You could also invest in a comfortable latex bed, the company said. Word on the web is they sleep cooler.