Did you know that you can be in control of how well you sleep each night? No more excuses to why you are sluggish and tired each each day. There is a simple science behind how you can improve your sleep to reap the many benefits it has for your overall health. And I’m here today to help explain how you can apply some simple steps to take back your rest.
What Happens When You Don’t Get Enough Sleep?
Sleep deprivation is a leading cause of reduced mental and physical function, and it is estimated that up to one in three adults do not get the required seven to nine hours of sleep recommended. This can have some pretty severe short term, and long-term consequences if not addresses. Not getting a minimum requirement of sleep often reflects in not only your physical appearance (beauty sleep anyone?), but also results in a struggle to make connections and understand new information. This can be detrimental when on the job or at school when mental focus is a big part of success.
Vehicular and industrial accidents are also more likely to occur when you are tired due to a decreased physical response time, and overtime, you also can become more susceptible to obesity, heart disease, and diabetes- to name a few.
What is a Sleep Cycle?
When you fall asleep each night your body undergoes more than just the physical rest. This is a period of body healing and rejuvenation as well. I mentioned that your brain slows down when it is fatigued, so don’t be surprised to find yourself unable to complete logical assessments, make decisions, remember important things, or focus. Your judgement may also become impaired and affect your behavior as well.
The sleep cycle is an important series of stages that occur multiple times through the night and allow our brain to process information and store memory. It also allows our body to rest physically, and becomes a time when muscle and bone regeneration, and cellular structure begins to repair itself.
All of this results in a less healthy you. So how can you take control back?
Steps to a Healthier You
All of that may seem a bit scary doesn’t it? I bet you didn’t know just how important a good night’s sleep was, but the good news is: you can start applying steps to take back your sleep health starting now.
Sure, there will always be a few nights where you struggle to find the rest you deserve due to factors outside of your control, but what you can do immediately is take an assessment of your personal habits that may be keeping you from getting decent sleep.
Remove Sleep Inhibitors
Caffeine and sugar can stay in our systems up to six hours, and even if you don’t feel the affects of them directly, your body is still working to process them during this time and will keep you from drifting off simply because it isn’t done working yet. Do yourself a favor and limit, or cut out completely, these types of stimulants 4 to 6 hours before heading to bed.
Also – get rid of your televisions, tablets, or phones at least a half hour or more before bedtime. They emit blue light, which can inhibit melatonin- a naturally occurring hormone that is released after daylight to influence sleep.
Regular bedtimes and waking times help influence your circadian rhythm, a natural process your body goes through that influences the hormonal releases of your body. Think of it somewhat like an internal clock that tells you when it is time to do certain things during the day. By creating healthy habits, you are influencing a rhythmic body process that helps influence not only how you sleep, but what processes are able to occur during sleep.
Your sleep environment has a lot to do with how well you are able to sleep each night as well. Cooler temperatures better support your body’s ability to relax, so consider sleeping with less blankets, clothing, and/or lowering your room’s thermostat. Blackout curtains are also a good option for those of you who need to catch some sleep during the day as it helps keep your melatonin levels in check.
Your overall comfort is crucial to your sleep as well. Many people are unaware of just how much their mattress can influence their sleep patterns. If you are sleeping uncomfortably, or wake with aches and pains, chances are your mattress is to blame. There are online multiple sites to help make your search for a new mattress easier, but The Sleep Judge is one of the best with dozens of unbiased reviews to help you find exactly what you need within any budget.