Sleep, like nutrition and physical activity, is a critical determinant of your health and well-being.
Sleep is a major contributor to your physical health. It gives you greater energy so that you are able to be more active during the day. It also helps your body fight illness by boosting the defense response of your immune system.
Sleep is a key component of your mental well-being. When you are well-rested, you tend to feel happier and more optimistic. Sleep helps reduce feelings of frustration, anxiety and depression. Adequate sleep enhances your cognitive abilities. It helps you focus and think more creatively. It also helps you solve problems and remember important information. For students, sleep can be a secret to success in the classroom.
Sleep also guards your heart by reducing your risk of high blood pressure and heart attack. It also reduces your risk of type 2 diabetes by helping your body maintain proper blood sugar levels. Sleep can help you manage your weight by regulating the hormones that control your appetite and metabolism.
Sleep is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle.
8 Tips For Better Sleep
1. Early Morning? Go to bed at your usual time.
If you are accustom to going to bed at the same time each night, the stress of trying to force your body into sleep earlier than usual could make it take even longer than normal to fall asleep! This results in a tossing and turning nightmare. So, even if your alarm is set for the crack of dawn, climb into bed at your usual hour.
2. Naps are great! But make sure you take them in this window.
Assuming you work during the day, and aren’t working overnight shifts, the best time to nap is between 1pm and 3pm. This is early enough in the day so it won’t interfere with night-time rest. 15-30 minutes is the perfect amount of time for a short nap. It’s long enough to feel refreshed, but not groggy. If you sleep longer, you’ll end up waking up mid-sleep cycle and feel fuzzy. If your day permits it, a 90-minute nap is also appropriate. This allows your body to complete one full sleep cycle and you won’t feel groggy after.
3. Wine is for dinner, not bedtime.
While booze might make you sleepy, booze before bed is a bad idea. Boozing before bed means potential wake-ups during the night and you will awaken earlier than usual the next morning. It takes about an hour for your system to break down each drink and once your body metabolizes the alcohol in your system, you tend to experience a sleep disruption. So, if you plan on having one cocktail do it at least 1-2 hours before you lay down.
4. 8 hours is great but you might need 6… or 9.
8 hours is what the average person needs per night, but not everyone falls under average and 8 hours certainly isn’t set in stone. Some people need more, some people need less. Keep track of how many hours you are sleeping and when you feel your best during the day. Strive for 7-8 and see how you are feeling. Most people fall painfully short due to over-packed schedules.
5. Get your body moving, but don’t overdo it.
A workout might physically exhaust your body, but it usually stimulates the mind which prevents you from calming down. Try to exercise at least 4 hours from the time you lay down for bed. If you schedule only permits exercise right before bed, take a cold shower to bring your core body temperature back down.
6. Keep your bedroom cool.
Our bodies are designed to start warm and then cool down as we drift off. You’ll fall asleep faster in a cool, dark room where your body’s core temperature is able to decline. Take a warm bath then try donning a pair of fuzzy socks and cozy pants while you finish your night-time ritual. Strip down before you crawl under the covers.
7. Put away the electronics and turn off the lights.
Bedside lamps and the illumination from our many electronic devices suppresses the production of sleep-promoting melatonin. So, if you truly cannot sleep, do not pull out the ipad, iphone, kindle, or macbook – try listening to quiet music, taking deep breaths, counting sheep, or – my personal favorite – envisioning each Chakra from Root to Crown. If you find yourself with a burst of energy, a surefire way to get some great shut-eye is getting it on!
8. Ditch the drugs. There are better options.
Disturbing new studies are popping up all over the place, warning us of the potential side effects of popular sleep aids like Lunesta and Ambien. Trouble sleeping is usually associated with the disruptions that are already listed. Take a look at your schedule, habits, and bedtime routines and make adjustments accordingly. If you are truly struggling, talk to your provider about taking 3mg of melatonin. It’s safe and may help regulate sleep cycles.
Choose to Nourish,