health

Are you 'sleep bragging'? We need to talk about the new obsession you're 100% guilty of.

How have I been sleeping? Omg so glad you asked! I'm actually super stoked with myself. Always room for improvement, but on target, nonetheless. 

Do you want me to just share my Sleep Score with you?? Wanna know how much REM I got last night? Cause, I don't want to make a whole thing out of it, but the numbers talk, sweetie. And my recent nighttime routine has been pretty f**king on point.

After taking a warm shower and slathering myself in various serums and oils; I dim the smart lights, make myself a melatonin-spiked herbal tea and fill my stomach with sleeping juice. I then brush my teeth, throw 329 pillows off my horizontal throne, climb in, slip on my silk eye mask and prepare to get approximately even TOO much REM. Ha ha ha. No such thing, AMIRITE?!

Watch: How long should you nap for? Post continues below.


Video via Mamamia.

And yes - of course I track my sleep on my smart watch! Goodness. Silly question, Carol.

It's my favourite thing about the whole sleeping thing. You know, waking up, looking at my app and feeling all refreshed and smug with myself and knowing I slept the s**t outta things.

 

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I feel like I'm sharper. More creative. Better at my job/life.

If I feel grumpy, irritated or stressed, I'll tend to (immediately) blame it on a bad night's sleep. (IT'S THE REM. DEFINITLEY NEEDED MORE REM).

I digress, this whole obsession might be a sign I'm getting older (I *did* turn 30 the other week, you guys). But it's also possible that we're in the midst of some kind of strange cultural shift - and sleep is at the crux of it.

Don't get me wrong, sleep has always been important, but I can help but think that it now has this weird, competitive undertone that was never there before. Y'know? 

It's like, getting enough sleep and knowing how healthy and beneficial it is has almost become... ~trendy~. 

These days people LOVE flexing their quality of sleep and how much of it they get - whether it's sharing data with friends between smart devices, or doing the old humble brag on Instagram.

It’s even become this weird competition we have with ourselves. Like, every night is another opportunity to SLEEP BETTER - and prove it to yourself in the form of numbers and graphs on a screen.

Dubbed 'sleep optimisation' by the wellbeing industry, it's no secret that sleep has become BIG business. 

There are essential oils, tea blends, pillow sprays, weighted blankets, blue light blockers and white noise machines to help you improve the 'quality' of your sleep. There's even TINY BEDS TO TUCK YOUR PHONES AWAY AT NIGHT.

 

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However, while it may now be healthy and trendy to pay attention to your sleep cycle - there's one major drawback.

Y'see, this whole fixation has quickly turned itself into an ✨issue✨.

Our increased interest in sleep has turned into us stressing over sleep, which has resulted in us struggling to actually FALL ASLEEP.

How very awkward.

Our whole preoccupation with sleep is so intense that Kelly Glazer Baron, PhD, wrote a whole report on it and coined a term for people obsessed with sleeping well: Orthosomnia. 

I'm not going to go deep on what this condition is, because the Internet has that covered: but it's basically a condition that has been on the rise since the introduction of sleep trackers.

While most people who track their shut-eye can do it with no repercussions, the report said that others can end up becoming so intensely absorbed with their sleep quality that it keeps them awake. 

Others might sleep fine, but become so anxious and stressed with a poor reading that it impacts their mood and productivity the following day.

Why... why are we so weird?

According to research published in Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, it's not a small issue, either. 

"There are a growing number of patients who are seeking treatment for self-diagnosed sleep disturbances such as insufficient sleep duration and insomnia due to periods of light or restless sleep observed on their sleep tracker data," the researchers wrote.  

"The patients' inferred correlation between sleep tracker data and daytime fatigue may become a perfectionistic quest for the ideal sleep in order to optimise daytime function." 

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*Cries in first world problems*

According to The Guardian, Dr Guy Leschziner, a sleep disorder specialist and consultant in London, said a growing preoccupation with getting enough sleep was backfiring.

“We’ve seen a lot of people who have developed significant insomnia as a result of either sleep trackers or reading certain things about how devastating sleep deprivation is for you,” he said at a science festival in the UK. 

Leschziner said he sees a high percentage of patients seeking treatment for insomnia, and they basically turn up to his clinic with all their smart phone data about their sleep patterns (bless), noting that they're often reluctant to delete the app. “It’s rather difficult to dissuade them from using it,” he said.

Interesting, isn't it?

While I don't know if I'll give up my sleep tracking any time soon (fight me), if you can't stop thinking about whether you're getting enough sleep and if you should just get used to rain sounds and diffusers, please, for the love of melatonin, stop with the ol' sleep tracking for a while. 

For more from Erin Docherty, follow her on Instagram.

Feature image: Getty/Mamamia

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