So if we tend to think of January as being the month to purify ourselves of bad habits, we might have that wrong – quite literally. The month of February got its name from the Roman month Februarius, which was named after the Latin term februum that means purification. So perhaps in fact February is the month we ought to focus our efforts on purifying our lifestyle habits?
A quest for purity is essentially a process of decontamination and so we first need to begin this process by identifying what the contaminants are. For instance, when focusing our efforts on purifying our sleep habits, we could choose from a pick and mix of sleep contaminants that include:
A stimulant that blocks our body’s natural neurotransmitter adenosine receptors to increase alertness, caffeine is the most commonly used psychoactive drug in the world. There’s various sources of research that claim the various health benefits and drawbacks of caffeine but, as far as a quest for clean sleep is concerned, caffeine is a contaminant.
Alcohol contaminates our sleep by interfering with our natural sleep phases. At first, alcohol may force us into a deeper sleep, only to potentially wake with within a few hours and – with the diuretic effect of alcohol on our bodies – we can experience greater sleep disturbances and greater dissatisfaction with our sleep.
We’re not wading knee deep into the ongoing back and forth on the topic of how screens affect our ability to fall asleep, however, the very 24/7 availability of bedside technology, contact-ability, prolonged access to stimulating content and prolonged access to sources of stress (work or social) mean 24/7 tech is a contaminant to our sleep.
So, in the truest month of purification, why not pick a sleep contaminant to target this February?