• This is a 2-part article on Sleep Tips and Advice: Good Sleep Reduces Crime, Sleep Deprivation Compromises Public Safety. The article continues and concludes with Part 2, which includes the References relied upon.

In Sleep and The Law: Strange Bedfellows, the author addressed the issue of relationship between law and sleep. Good sleep makes patient, pleasant, better balanced individuals. Patient, pleasant, better balanced individuals are less likely to commit crimes or be negligent in their actions and cause damage to others or their property. Patient, pleasant, better balanced individuals are far less likely to see the inside of a courtroom as the sleep-deprived.

And, according to these time-tested words circa 1850 by German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer (Our Relation to Ourselves), you will live longer:

"Sleep is the interest we have to pay on the capital which is called in at death. And the higher the rate of interest and the more regularly it is paid, the further the date of redemption is postponed."

1. INTRODUCTION

sleeping dogSleep deprivation is not a core target of crime prevention initiatives.

But sleep deprivation does compromise public safety although in subtle ways. Sleep deprivation is an aggravating factor of both crime and personal injuries (see Lloyd Duhaime, Sleep and The Law: Strange Bedfellows).

Sleep deprivation is a significant factor in domestic violence and is often given by criminal law defendants as an explanation or contributing factor in their actions.

The Washington-based National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration released a report in 2003 which included this:

"Sleep is a neurobiologic need with predictable patterns of sleepiness and wakefulness. Sleepiness results from the sleep component of the circadian cycle of sleep and wakefulness, restriction of sleep, and/or interruption or fragmentation of sleep. The loss of one night's sleep can lead to extreme short-term sleepiness, while habitually restricting sleep by 1 or 2 hours a night can lead to chronic sleepiness. Sleeping is the most effective way to reduce sleepiness. Sleepiness causes auto crashes because it impairs performance and can ultimately lead to the inability to resist falling asleep at the wheel. Critical aspects of driving impairment associated with sleepiness are reaction time, vigilance, attention, and information processing.

"Drowsy driving causes more than 100,000 crashes a year, resulting in 40,000 injuries and 1,550 deaths."

Any reduction of sleep deprivation would reduce, proportionately, the commission of crime and of torts.

Sleep is a natural science, a branch of medicine. But it is also the subject matter of quack science. The Internet is chock full of websites with pseudo-sleep remedies, magic and often creative ideas to address sleep deprivation, both falling asleep and sleeping properly. $19.95 a month for the rest of your life will get you any number of guaranteed sleep better programs, and newsletters published in the depths of the Ozark Mountains.

Driver Charged in Crash Involving Tracy Morgan Had Not Slept in 24 Hours, Prosecutors SayImproper sleep is the number one cause of sleep apnea, a condition which presents itself usually more to spouse then to the actual sleeper, as dramatic snoring.

"Obstructive sleep apnea is characterized by repetitive upper airway obstruction during sleep, leading to recurring episodes of hypoxemia and arousal from sleep, resulting in disturbed sleep patterns."1

In situations of sleep apnea, the mind and body of the individual is caught in a dangerous trauma midway between the unconscious, the physical state of being asleep, but without the total physical relaxation sleep is supposed to bring. There is a deep, profound rhythm and sequence to proper sleep which is disturbed by ongoing sleep deprivation. The disturbance can manifest itself by a pattern of disturbing snoring, the dramatic snoring being the physical manifestation of the disturbance; sleep apnea.

In most cases sleep apnea and snoring is caused by a pattern of improper sleep, not sinus issues. Restore proper sleep and snoring disappears. Again, the Internet and holistic and book health stores are full of quack science books on the best-selling word, sleep apnea.

This is a no-strings-attached or we-want-your-money agenda; just a heart-felt, honest, simple and concise list, tips for better sleep presented on the premise that every person who wakes up after a good sleep is more likely to stay outside of a court of law.

2. SETTING THE STAGE

Caffeine

Eliminate caffeine from your diet.

Remember this t-shirt?

Coffee! You can sleep when you're dead!

Caffeine takes eight hours to clear itself from your system. And it is addictive so this is not an easy proposal for many. However, if the sleep issues are serious and long-standing, and individual may have no choice. There is no middle ground on this, an individual who is having sleep issues must decide between caffeine and proper sleep (i.e. health). Many individuals are naturally high-strung (such as the author) and for that physiology, caffeine gives twice the high but at twice the cost in terms of adverse affect on sleep and, ultimately, health.

The American Medical Association simply reiterates common sense in advising:

"Caffeine intake should be avoided in those who are vulnerable (to somnolence)".

For any individual exhibiting symptoms of sleep deprivation or reporting problems falling asleep or sleeping soundly, the first easy solution is to eliminate caffeine. This includes any substance with cocoa such as chocolate and tea.

Alcohol

Alcohol can help you get to sleep but it greatly reduces the quality of sleep. It may knock a person out at bedtime but it deprives the subject of proper sleep (not all time spent asleep is equal).

sleeping manAgain, alcohol use can create a chronic pattern of sleep deprivation. A single night of alcohol consumption over a certain limit, inevitably disturbs an individual's sleep pattern and takes days of recovery before the sleep rhythm and balance can quieten back to normal.

Evening Eating

According to the Sleep Health Foundation of Australia:

"Eating too close to bedtime can cause heartburn and discomfort in the chest. Avoid late meals. Any snack before bedtime should be small and light. Try to limit your fluids before bedtime so that you don’t have to get up to go to the toilet during the night."

Simply put: never eat at night-time. The earlier the last meal (dinner, supper,) the better. Anybody who eats or snacks in the two or three hour window before sleep time, is more likely to toss and turn. You might get lucky from time to time and trigger the body into sleep but on most occasions, the body is too busy processing recently ingested food to fall asleep.

Some people swear by a pre-sleep snack. One acquaintance of the author always has a bowl of cereal before bedtime. The people who do this have either accepted sleep deprivation as a part of who they are, or are the lucky ones who are blessed with an easy sleep trigger and who, almost as a freak of nature, are able to sleep soundly even though their body is busy digesting.

Bedtime Distractions

Avoid stressful activities in the last hour or two before bedtime. This includes murder mystery or spy-assassin thrillers, medical mysteries or other thriller type television, audio or books.

But this also includes receiving and answering e-mails especially if work-related.

One good relationship and sleep rule: do not talk about family finances in the bedroom, at bedtime.

Evening Sports

Try to avoid late-night, pre-sleep vigorous exercise. Many of my friends play ice hockey late at night and some (but not all) complain about not being able to sleep until the wee hours of the morning because even when they get home, they are still high strung from the game.

The American Medical Association:

"While some folk sleep well after exercise, others may notice that they experience difficulty resting after a vigorous workout."

Bedroom = Sleep Sanctuary

Don't work in the bedroom. Again, according to the AMA:

"Avoid working in the bedroom; preserve this sanctuary for relaxation and sleep."

Do not put a television set in your bedroom. Again, just as caffeine and sleep deprivation go hand-in-hand with many people, many people that report sleep deprivation have a television set in their bedroom. Hello!

Do not allow electronic devices into the bedroom in the hour or two before bedtime, if at all.

Smart phones and the tablets are bedroom infestations which contribute to sleep deprivation. These devices are teaching bad, potentially lifelong habits and ruining the sleep of children permitted to keep the devices in the bedroom at night.

no cellphone signThe devices are often used to receive stressful signals all of which contribute to winding up the mind and, when the time comes to find it, making the sleep trigger elusive. And, they release potentially dangerous electromagnetic waves [see World Greatest Tort Claim? Do Cellphones = Increased Risk of Brain Tumor?].

Almost all mobile device computer companies such as Android or Apple have oxymoron apps (computer software for the mobile device) to assist you in falling asleep. These apps involve placing a brightly lit electronic device (the tablet or smart-phone) a foot or two, if not mere inches before your eyes, even as you are supposed to be falling asleep, a process which could not possibly interrupt your sleep more. You activate the sleep "app" which then, the ad copy goes, coaches you to sleep. This is done with a relaxing voice, and sometimes finishes off with some kind of relaxation sound (one favorite is the sound of gentle waves crashing on a sandy beach). Then, if you're lucky, the application turns the mobile phone or device off.

But you're stuck with a live cell phone right next to you while you sleep, open to the world of telephone calls and beeping if you get a late text message or an e-mail.

Eliminate Ambient Sounds

Make the bedroom as soundproof as possible. You do not want your sleep disrupted by an ambulance or police car racing by, sirens blazing, at 3 AM, or the sound of some rowdy bunch of kids parading home in the early hours of the morning.

A significant disturber of sleep are crows, ravens or other birds who get cracking with the mating or other social calls at full pitch, almost with the sun.

Get rid of any clock that ticks.

Do not allow any telephone into your bedroom - cellphone or land-line.

Reduce Light

Make the bedroom as dark as possible. A good night sleep is well worth the cost of light blocking curtains.

Once daylight starts to filter into the bedroom in the early morning, your body slowly and for light sleepers, under protest, starts to wake up. So you do not wake up at a natural time, when you are fully rested, but instead wake up when the sun comes up.insomnia

If there is any ambient lighting in your bedroom, reduce the glare is much as possible. This would include things like power surge plugs with their red or green power light (cover with a strip of electrical tape) or an alarm clock with bright numbering - cover this with anything.

As long as the alarm goes off at the right time, you do not need to know what time it is if you accidentally wake up. In fact, it is better you do not know what time it is because the sight of brightly lit numbers in the middle of the night requires the brain to process and this process alone will take you farther out of your sleep.

Pillow

Get a good bed and pillow. Improving your sleep on a bed which slowly compromises your back, is not a win-win.

Many neglect the importance of a pillow that suits their particular sleeping preferences.

Arguably, your pillow should be one of your prized possessions: purchased with care, and replaced from time to time if, as it inevitably does, it gets worn down.

3. FISHING FOR TRANSITION

One of the most fascinating and interesting and still spiritual and not fully understood phenomena is that brief moment between consciousness and actual sleep, a smooth transition where we go from being aware of ourselves to unconsciousness.

Every individual's sleep experience is different but that magic moment of transition is the same in all of us.

We can never remember the moment and while it can't be forced safely except by an anesthesiologist, you can set the stage, invite it in:

"You cannot make yourself fall asleep – just like you can’t digest your food faster. Sleep onset is not something we can control. We can only create the right conditions for sleep – both in our minds and in our environment."2

Some basic awareness of what conditions might facilitate this magic moment is essential to good sleep.

We have already mentioned a number of techniques and strategies to maximize the conditions for the transition, all of which are designed to tranquilize your surroundings.

Bedtime or sleep time, whatever you want to call it, usually starts when the last light is turned off, and you close your eyes.

The hunt is on for the magic moment of transition into a state of sleep, so elusive to some, but also a moment of greatest interest to sleep experts.

Best advice ever? Smile your way into sleep.

A simple smile often works. The very act of working the smile muscles as your cheek skin is tightened upwards, can be a magic carpet to unconsciousness.

< … continued … >


• This is a 2-part article on Sleep - Top Tips and Advice (previously Sleep Tips and Advice: Good Sleep Reduces Crime, Sleep Deprivation Compromises Safety). The article continues and concludes with Part 2, which includes the References relied upon.