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Sleep is necessary for health and is just as important as healthy eating and exercising well. Many of us get way less than we need and it will affect many areas of our lives. Most people need 7-8 hours of sleep. Fewer people need less than 7 and a few need even more at 9 hours.
First, I want to share why sleep is important and then I will share some tips that you can use for getting the sleep you need.
- Insufficient sleep can affect your health by increasing risks for obesity, heart disease, heart attacks, and diabetes.
- Insufficient sleepers eat more calories. Not enough sleep disrupts the appetite hormones and can cause poor appetite regulation.
- Less sleep affects concentration and productivity. Our brains function better with adequate sleep, improves problem solving, and memory performance. It can be as dangerous as drunk driving.
- Sleep deprivation and disorders are linked to mental health issues, including depression
- Sleep deprivation may lead to lower immune function. One study has shown that people that sleep less than 7 hours are more likely to develop a cold than those that sleep 8 or more hours.
- Poor sleep can affect Inflammation in the body. Has been linked to long-term inflammation of the digestive tract. Some researchers are even recommending sleep studies for chronic inflammation sufferers.
Now that we know some of the affects sleep deprivation can have, let’s talk about ways to increase good sleep. It is difficult to know which of these will work for any one given person and it may take some trial and correction on the part of the client, but good sleep can be had with a little bit of work.
Our bodies work on a sleep cycle of about 90 minutes per cycle. Waking in the middle of a cycle can make you feel like you have inadequate rest.
10 Sleep Tips to Get the Sleep You Need
- Stick to a sleep schedule. Even on the off days, your wake up and bedtimes should be the same. Limit the difference to no more than an hour. It will reinforce your natural sleep-wake cycle. If you struggle to fall asleep within 20 minutes, get up and leave your bedroom. Return to bed when you are tired.
- Create a bedtime ritual. Do something relaxing like read or listen to quiet music. No electronics before bed or the middle of the night due to the lighting that makes your brain think you should be awake.. Take a warm bath before bed or even a warm towel scrub to relax with.
- Pay attention to what you eat and drink, especially before bed. Don’t fill up just before bed or go to bed starving. Cigarettes, caffeine and alcohol can have stimulating effects and make it difficult to sleep or awaken you a bit later in the night.
- Create a calm, restful sleep environment. Dark and quiet. No computers, tv’s or bright lights in your room. Some might need room-darkening shades, fans, or other white noise to sleep. Be sure to have a comfortable mattress and pillows. Cooler temperatures encourage good sleep.
- Limit daytime napping. Long daytime naps can lead to difficulty sleeping later in the day. If you really need a nap, do it early and for a short time.
- Include exercise in your day. Even better, outside activity is great. Pay attention to timing of the exercise. Some people it gives them energy so evening exercise might not be the best timing.
- Consider stress. Try to go to bed with few worries on your mind. If you are struggling with anxiety from work or family, you may need to work on stress management. Sometimes a journal in the evening to write down concerns before going to bed can help to eliminate those worries to allow you to sleep better. Sometimes an evening meditation and stretches can lower that stress level.
- Use bright lights to encourage your usual circadian rhythms. When you get up, open the blinds and turn on lights. At night, consider dimming the lights.
- Use this sleep calculator to help determine when to go to bed to get the sleep you need in conjunction with sleep cycles. http://sleepyti.me/ It allows you to put in what time to go to bed and get up or when you need to wake up so you know when you should go to bed.
- Reach out to your healthcare provider. If you still struggle with sleep, ask for help. There may be some underlying medical issue that needs further evaluation. Keep a sleep diary so you can show what has been happening and what you have tried.
These are just a few ways that you can work on your sleep habits to be your best self.