In this post, we’ll dive into why sleep is important for people who stutter. You’ll get 9 practical tips to wake up more fit for talking. And it’s not the usual tips. In this post we’ll cover:
- Why do people who stutter need to sleep 7 hours or more?
- When your brain is tired you stutter more
- 9 tips to wake up less anxious and more fit for talking
- Catching up – what we’ve covered
This is what you get: Practical advice to be more energized, less anxious, and more fit for talking
Why do people who stutter need to sleep 7 hours or more?
Sleep is important for your overall health and well-being. We know that waste is flushed during sleep. And a good night’s sleep enhances learning and memory. And your overall health is improved, because your body is in an anabolic state, building up the immune system and various other systems. And that’s great.
Besides these obvious purposes of sleep, there are other reasons to crawl under the sheets for people who stutter.
The 1st reason is that sleep affects anxiety level
Research shows that people who are pessimistic experience more anxiety and stress. Another study found that youth’s with anxiety disorder have problems with sleep. People with social anxiety, who are treated with cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) experience less effect of the treatment, because a lack of sleep inhibits the effect. Anxiety and sleep are generally speaking two sides of the same coin.
The 2nd reason is that sleep increases optimism
This study shows that quality sleep and optimism are cause and effect of each other. Self-esteem affects the quality of your sleep. In a study, a group of participants with insomnia symptoms, who slept less than 6 hours experienced lower self-esteem than compared to 7-8 hours sleep. Also, more than 9 hours of sleep was equivalent to low self-esteem and optimism. In other words, the optimal amount of hours slept is 7-8 hours.
The 3rd reason is that sleep affects your self-control
It turns out that sleep habits and self-control go hand in hand. Individuals who sleep less are more prone to being impulsive and distracted. A study pointed out that your self-control and decision-making is affected by the amount of sleep you get. In other words, if you don’t get enough sleep you’ll eat more ice cream.
The final reason is that sleep deprivation links to stuttering
Different physiological stressors like sleep deprivation may contribute to stuttering. In an article, it was discussed that stress is induced by high cognitive workload and sleep deprivation. And verbal indicators of stress is e.g. stuttering, repetition, tongue-slip. The takeaway is that the quality of your sleep affects your speech. And this article backs up the hypothesis.
Sleep deprivation makes people who stutter “stupid”
Sleepiness ratings suggest that subjects were largely unaware of these increasing cognitive deficits […] source
48 participants in a study from the University of Pennsylvania and Washington State University were restricted to 8 h, 6 h or 4 h per day for 14 days, or to 0 h for 3 days. The result was that those who slept 4-6 hours didn’t differentiate much in declining cognitive ability. The 4-hour group did worse than the 6-hour group. But the 6-hour group followed along.
When the participants only slept 6 hours or less they performed as if they had been awake for 2 days. And the participants didn’t notice their declining cognitive abilities.
Another study says that your prefrontal cortex is affected. That means you have less cognitive power to higher functions such as decision making:
Sleep deprivation studies repeatedly show a variable (negative) impact on mood, cognitive performance, and motor function due to an increasing sleep propensity and destabilization of the wake state. Specific neurocognitive domains including executive attention, working memory, and divergent higher cognitive functions are particularly vulnerable to sleep loss. In humans, functional metabolic and neurophysiological studies demonstrate that neural systems involved in executive function (i.e., prefrontal cortex) are more susceptible to sleep deprivation in some individuals than others. Source
When your brain is tired you stutter more
Language performance is affected too, according to this study. Researchers studied 38 non-native English students who completed a 28-hour sleep deprivation marathon. They got a task four times during the study at night (18:30-22:30, 23:00-03:00, 03: 30-07:30, and 08:00-12:00).
What happened was that the students’ attention and comprehension were negatively affected by sleep deprivation.
The takeaway. When you get less than 6 hours in the bed, you might as well have been awake for 2 days straight. The lack of sleep not only affects your memory and mood but also your language abilities. And for people who stutter it is vital to be at their fullest potential.
9 tips to wake up less anxious and more fit for talking
The obvious way to sleep better is to exercise, chase darkness as if it was dollars, and avoid caffeine. But we have found other roads to achieve the goal to wake up less anxious and more fit for talking.
1. Go to bed between 8 PM-12 AM
I was once at a sleep convention. After dinner, the party began around 9 pm. But the party didn’t last long because all of us sleep-conscious people went to bed at 9.30 PM. When you go to bed between 8 PM and 12 AM you get non-REM sleep. It’s during non-REM that growth hormone is released and generally is more psychologically restorative.
[…]there’s a window of several hours—roughly between 8 PM and 12 AM—during which your brain and body have the opportunity to get all the non-REM and REM shuteye they need to function optimally. – Dr. Matt Walker, head of the Sleep and Neuroimaging Lab at the University of California, Berkeley.
2. Unload your mind with journaling and planning
When your mind is spinning it’s impossible to sleep. If you’re the type of person who thinks too much when in bed, it will be helpful to unload your thoughts in a journal. No, you don’t have to write “Dear diary, I love you and you’re my only and best friend…”. You just unload all thoughts. Questions to answer are:
- What have you been doing today?
- What was fun?
- What are you grateful for?
The benefits are numerous according to Huffington Post article:
- Stretching IQ
- Achieving goals
- Strengthen self-discipline
Right after journaling, you can plan the next day, so you know what to do and don’t have to remember everything. Put your mind to rest and wake up refreshed.
3. Banish smartphones and other tech
On my Huawei P9 Lite phone, I have a do not disturb function. Normally, I let my phone stay quiet from 5 PM. I wish I could do it before, but my wife needs to be able to reach me until she gets home from work.
I don’t use my phone from 5 PM because of the blue light. But it’s not only the light that disturbs your sleep. Games, social media texting, emails and night reading on your Kindle app keeps you awake. According to this survey, 20 % of adolescents asked said they woke up several times during the night because of phone disturbances.
Read a book instead, but not on your Kindle.
4. Eat the right food
When you want to sleep eat:
- Cottage cheese with fresh fruit
- Celery and peanut butter
- A banana
- A small portion of rice with protein
- Low-sugar cereal and milk
- Mixed nuts or low-sugar trail mix
When you want to stay awake eat:
- Spicy foods
- Sugary foods
5. If nothing happens, get out of bed
You’ve counted sheep, planned the day tomorrow and done all your very best to fall asleep. Nothing works. Get out of bed. Go read a book. Listen to calming music. Watch the night. All is better than tossing and turning and thinking about why you can’t get sleepy.
6. Get some sun
Vitamin-D helps to get sleepy. Vitamin D is critical for maintaining normal health. Though is it estimated that 50 % of adults have low vitamin D levels.
Research indicates that vitamin D influences sleep quality and quantity. The researchers analyzed sleep patterns in male adults and found that a lack of vitamin D was associated with less sleep generally. The results were that low levels of vitamin D were linked to problems like:
- Low vitamin D increased the likelihood that people slept less than 5 hours.
- Low vitamin D was also linked to low sleep efficiency scores.
A score below 70 % is way below the healthy score of 85 % or higher. A low-efficiency score indicates that it takes a long time to fall asleep or that you wake early. It could also be the result of waking many times.
7. Avoid a hot bath right before bedtime
It’s tempting to take a hot bath to relax and then go to bed. But it’s counterproductive because the body needs to lower its temperature in order to fall asleep. If you need a shower, take it at least 2 hours before bedtime. Then your body has enough time to decrease its temperature. Research confirms this statement.
8. Don’t count hours
When you begin to count hours that you don’t sleep or the ones that you do, it’s not good for you. What happens is that you start stressing about getting enough hours asleep. Your mind will spin, and that doesn’t help you.
9. Engage your imagination
Speaking of rumination, one habit that helps is visualization. Visualization involves imagining and experiencing a scene. In that way, you draw attention to calmness and relaxation. You can do it alone, right before bedtime.
Catching up – what we’ve covered on stuttering and sleep
Sleep is very important for people who stutter because if you get 6 hours or less, your mind will behave like you didn’t sleep for 2 days. You will be stupid according to research on cognitive functions. And you won’t notice it. Talk about not knowing what you don’t know! The thing with sleep deprivation is, that it also affects your language, your mood, and overall health. What that means is that when you are deprived, you are more anxious and that makes you stutter more.
There are 9 ways you wake up fresher. They are:
- Go to bed between 8 PM-12 AM
- Unload your mind with journaling and planning
- Banish smartphones
- Eat the right food
- If nothing happens, get out of bed
- Get some sun
- Avoid a hot bath right before bedtime
- Don’t count hours
- Engage your imagination
And that’s it. I hope you learned a thing or two to wake up less anxious and more fit for talking.