Health & Wellness

Alexandrians, Including Mayor, Split on Sleep Habits

A Better Sleep Council study revealed that many residents living along the Potomac River may be sleeping better! Read more here!

A man lying in bed cannot sleep from insomnia (stock photo)

The sun is peeking through the windows, the alarm is blaring, reminding you that it’s time to get out of your warm and cozy bed. You haven’t even started your day and you already feel tired. Does this sound familiar?

For City of Alexandria’s Mayor, Justin M. Wilson, sleep has been a bit of a struggle prioritizing.

“My sleep has never been particularly good,” states Wilson. “I usually do 5-6 hours a night. I try to be in bed by 2 most nights and usually up a little after 7. If I run in the morning, I usually go out around 6, so I try to be in bed a little after midnight. I’m sure this sleep schedule is not remotely healthy for me!”

So relatable, right? Do you find yourself wondering what you can do to sleep better? The Better Sleep Council (BSC) sought to find out.

“According to the BSC study, State of America’s Sleep, we found that America is sleeping in two extremes – excellent or poor with very little in between,” stated Mary Helen Rogers, BSC vice president of marketing and communications. “62% are poor sleepers (up 6% from 2019) and are 4 times more likely to feel stressed out and 48% claim that their mental health has suffered.”

Unfortunately, many people struggled in 2020 with loss of jobs, the fear of contracting COVID-19, death of loved ones and feeling disconnected from family and friends. The pandemic disproportionately affected lower income families and individuals, many of whom had to continue going into workplaces throughout the pandemic. The added stress has had a negative effect on sleep.

“COVID-19 has affected poor sleepers even more: They are experiencing physical and emotional pain, as well as a decline in mental health – almost half (48%) say their mental health has declined in the past year,” the study finds.

While the stats aren’t very optimistic, the study did reveal that many residents living along the Potomac River may be sleeping better! Why could this be? Excellent sleepers as it turn out are more likely to be urban residents living in cities, people over the age of 55, and have a bachelor’s degree or higher.

The Zebra asked Rogers, what can everyone incorporate into their daily lives to get a better sleep now?

“Make sleep a priority and schedule it, just as you might a workout or grocery shopping,” Rogers suggests. “Keep your bedroom clean and clear of clutter. Set an alarm for when it is time to turn off screens and start winding down. A warm bath or shower and clean comfortable pajamas help relax you and trigger your mind that it is time to sleep.”

Tired woman in bed with smartphone, low light (stock photo)

It’s never too early to start implementing good sleep hygiene habits with your children. Rogers states the same habits that adults use will be helpful for kids! Another thing to keep in mind is avoiding sugary food and beverages too close to bed time or your kids might have trouble falling asleep! Remember that bed time should not be cause for a fight between you and your child.

“Give your child other choices to make, like what type of PJs to wear or what book to read,” Rogers states.

Keep a firm boundary with your fur babies as well! While cuddling with your dog in bed can bring a lot of joy, it can also disturb your sleep if they don’t stay in their own bed.

“If you insist [on your dog staying in your bed] – change your bedding more frequently,” says Rogers. “Your pet can bring in excess hair and dander into your bed that can negatively impact your sleep.”

We’ve all ad a rhestless night’s sleep. It’s frustrating! Luckily, with the results of The Better Sleep Council’s study, everyone from the Mayor to a middle schooler can learn how to incorporate habits to help ourselves sleep better every night. Find more information on the BSC study on their website!

The Zebra Readers Sleep Poll Results

We asked and you answered! The Zebra conducted a brief poll, asking our readers some questions about sleep, see the results below!

On a scale of 1 to 5, how would you rate your sleep quality?

*1 is worst sleep quality, 5 is great sleep quality. All values are in percentages.

Do you sleep with pets in the bed?

Yes: 15 votes (41.7%)

No: 21 votes (58.3%)

Do you turn off electronics at least an hour before bed?

Yes: 7 votes (20.0%)

No: 28 votes (80.0%)

Do you find it hard to go to sleep or stay asleep?

Trouble falling asleep: 18 votes (58.1%)

Trouble staying asleep: 23 votes (74.2%)

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