New sleep habits for the new year

This post was originally published Feb. 6, 2017 on Mouthing Off.

Getting enough sleep is arguably one of the most challenging aspects of dental school. Between attending classes and studying for tests, working on your lab skills and seeing patients, it can be tough to find enough hours in the day to get ample sleep. While we’re all familiar with the many platitudes regarding ideal sleep schedules and the benefits of getting enough rest, it can be challenging to actually incorporate those guidelines into your everyday schedule. However, there’s no question that getting restful sleep is important.

A 2002 study published in Neuron found that a full night’s worth of sleep is correlated with a 20 percent improvement in motor speed without loss of accuracy. Fortunately, given the many mobile technological advances available today, there are now numerous apps designed to help you achieve this.

Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock
Have you ever taken a quick power nap to recharge, only to wake up dazed, disoriented and less energized? This app can monitor your sleep habits and set alarms to wake you up during your lightest sleep phase so you can avoid that jolting feeling of an interrupted REM cycle. While this may not be practical for waking you up at a specific time, it may be helpful for naps or on weekends.

Sleep Watch
This app syncs with an Apple Watch to directly monitor your vital signs while you catch some Zs, giving you even more accurate sleep data. With the help of this app, you can maximize your sleep schedule and figure out what feels best for you.

Rain Rain Sleep Sounds and Sleep Pillow Sounds
You know you’re a dental student when instead of counting sheep at night, you find yourself counting teeth. For those who have insomnia or trouble falling asleep, there are a plethora of apps offering soothing, sleep-inducing sounds. From rain and ocean waves to white noise, you have your pick of sounds to fall asleep to. Hopefully, this will help you sleep more efficiently and deeply.

Sleep Well Hypnosis
If you’re willing to try something different, some apps offer hypnosis audio sessions and sounds that claim to induce your brainwave frequency into one that is optimal for deep sleep. This may be worth a try for those who have exhausted all conventional methods of attaining a good night’s sleep.

These are just a few of the many apps and strategies available to help you sleep well. The new year has a lot in store for us dental students, and I hope you choose to prioritize restful sleep and increased wellness!

~ Sachi Mehrotra, Los Angeles ’19, District 11 Planning Committee Predental Chair

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