“Adequate sleep is a key part of a healthy lifestyle, and can benefit your heart, weight, mind, and more.” –health.com
How many of us are actively getting 7-8 hours of sleep a night, every night?? Yeah, I figured. It seems almost impossible when factoring in every day responsibilities, social events, and catching up on that new Netflix show. It’s becoming more and more apparent how important sleep is to our daily life, though.
Ever have a night of bad sleep? Can’t fall asleep, and then you wake up every couple hours? How do you feel the following day? It’s hard to function sometimes without turning to caffeine or sugar. In 2014, a phone study by BRFSS show that 1/3 of adults regularly do not get enough sleep! This problem has also been links to tons of health problems: depression, anxiety, fatigue, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, and so on. Not to mention the sleep disorders that seriously affect our REM sleep cycle: insomnia, narcolepsy, restless leg syndrome, and more.
So what’s the solution? How can you get better sleep and be better focused, less fatigued, and improve your mood? By practicing what we call good sleep hygiene.
Experts report that adults should try to get at least seven hours of sleep each night in order to maintain optimal physical and mental health. Other ways to help improve sleep, from the Center for Sleep Counseling Studies, Inc.:
- Try to maintain a regular sleep schedule by getting up at the same time every morning and going to bed at the same time every night. This will “anchor” your sleep schedule.
- Practice a 30-minute pre-sleep routine to wind down your mind and body from the stress and activity of the day: soothing music, relaxation and meditation exercises, or pleasure reading.
- Avoid bright lights for at least 30 minutes before bedtime (like your phone and laptop!!!); the blue light from computers and televisions block melatonin in your brain.
- Try to only use your bed for sleep… what I mean here is don’t talk on the phone, use the bed for home or office work, and no eating or drinking. This helps train your brain that when you lay down, it’s time to go to sleep.
- The clinical effects of caffeine generally last from 4-6 hours and longer for some people who are especially sensitive. Try to reduce caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol intake, as well as foods with sugar or high fructose corn syrup, before bedtime. This will keep you up longer. A light snack of complex carbohydrates is fine if you’re hungry before bedtime or during the night.
- Keep the bedroom cool and dark. A quiet, darkened, cool (≤ 68°F) yet comfortable room that feels safe is the best environment for healthy sleep.
- Regular exercise and a healthy diet are essential for optimal health and well being, including sound sleep. Exercising 3 to 6 hours before bedtime is optimal for relaxation and lowering of body core temperature to promote sleep.
These are just a few tips that might help us get better and more regular, healthy sleep. Use these helpful hints to decide what is truly best for your sleep and health. Happy dreaming!