Getting Back to Sleep – Keith Cushner of Tuck (POY 41)

Getting Back to Sleep - Kevin Cushner of Tuck (POY 41)

Keith Cushner founded Tuck to build one of the best websites on sleep health. Here’s his advice on how to sleep well and to help others sleep.

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About Keith Cushner and Tuck

It’s probably been a busy day for you so far, right? But I have a test for you: stop for a second and think about what you have left to do today.

If you’re like me, I’ll bet the word “sleep” didn’t cross your mind just then.

Sleep is something we have to do whether we like it or not, but there’s no arguing that proper rest provides all sorts of benefits. Unfortunately, many of us struggle with getting good, consistent sleep, and so do millions of Americans.

Keith Cushner is the founder and general manager of a nonprofit organization called Tuck, which is based in Seattle, Washington. Tuck is dedicated to bringing the best information on sleep together in one place online, and they present their work without the jargon or marketing tactics that are found on a lot of other sleep websites.

Keith founded Tuck after experiencing an extended period of insomnia himself. His interest in sleep research stuck, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a study in 2016. In that study, a third of American adults told the authors that they weren’t getting at least seven hours of sleep per night on a regular basis.

Poor sleep is a problem because getting less than seven hours of sleep per night for long periods is associated with chronic conditions like obesity and heart disease, mental health problems like depression, and it can make us heal more slowly and age faster. It also reduces our ability to function and puts us at risk for making dangerous mistakes—for example, if you’ve ever driven a car while tired.

The CDC also maintains data that shows differences in sleep quality between groups of us, particularly race, gender, relationship status, even down to individual states and counties. In that sense, sleep gaps between groups can be treated as a social problem, given the health care costs and quality of life issues that the chronically sleep deprived may face.

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According to Keith Cushner, “[A good sleep routine] starts with consistency.”

Despite what data like this can tell us, Keith is quick to point out that what qualifies as enough sleep or restful sleep isn’t the same for everybody. There’s no one reason why most people who are sleep challenged aren’t getting enough of it. Finding the right solution for each of us requires trial and error, and a broader awareness of the sleep’s benefits.

Just speaking as a layperson, I haven’t seen another site about sleep health like Tuck’s. Tuck.com launched in February of 2017, and it’s already gathered lots of research and tips on sleep health that I don’t think were together before.

Now what?

Homework for you

If sleep wasn’t on your to-do list today, then here’s a recap of Keith’s advice.

  1. First, choose consistent times to go to sleep and wake up every day. Tell your family, set alarms, do whatever you have to do to get your specific routine going.
  2. Next, reclaim your bedroom for sleeping. Think of it as where you store your body while it’s recharging, so the setting should match that function. Get it as dark as possible, as quiet as possible, and as comfortable as possible temperature-wise.
  3. Last, be willing to experiment. It may not be possible to reach perfect sleep hygiene and it’ll probably take time to get close. Keep in mind that persistence is the key to solving any problem, and this is no different.

As far as helping other people sleep, don’t be afraid to make small talk about how much sleep they got last night. If they’re having issues and don’t know what else to do, send them to Tuck.com.

Although it sounds like common sense, I learned from Keith that sleep really is key to our overall health and something a lot of us take for granted. Thus, a simple thing we can all do to help one another lead happier, healthier lives is to spread the word about the benefits of sleep. After all, a good night’s sleep is never a waste of time.

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