Sleep is far more than just the time when your body and brain shut down. During sleep, your brain stays busy, supervising a wide variety of biological maintenance tasks that keep you operating in top condition and prepare you for the day ahead. Without enough hours of restorative sleep, you’re never going to be fully charged for your day ahead. You won’t be able to work or perform at a level even close to your true potential.
The benefits of sleep effects nearly every area of your daily life. After a good night’s sleep, you feel better, your thoughts are clearer, and your emotions are less fragile. Without adequate sleep, judgment, mood, and ability to acquire and retain information are weakened. Over time, chronic sleep deprivation may lead to an array of serious medical conditions including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and even early mortality.
Following are some of the benefits of sleep and how it improves the quality and the length of your life.
- Sleep helps to repair your body.
- Sleep helps keep your heart healthy.
- Sleep reduces stress.
- Sleep can help lower blood pressure
- Sleep improves your memory, allows your brain to better process new experiences and knowledge, increasing your understanding and retention.
- Sleep helps control body weight issues.
- Sleep reduces your chances of diabetes
- Sleep reduces the occurrence of mood disorders.
The benefits of sleep are extensive and can make a difference in your quality of life, as well as the length of your life. Therefore, it is vital to place a priority on getting adequate, consistent sleep.
If you’re regularly losing hours of sleep time you’re headed for a major mental and physical breakdown.
The good news is that as you start getting the sleep you need, your energy and efficiency will go up. In fact, you’re likely to find that you actually get more done during the day than when you were burning the midnight oil trying to get more done by working into the early hours.
Are you one of those people who has trouble getting to sleep night after night? Let’s help you get right your sleeping habits so you get the sleep you need, recharging yourself and creating the most effective you that you can be.
The worst thing in the world is to try to sleep and not to. ~F. Scott Fitzgerald
Benjamin Franklin said “Early to bed early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.
We don’t usually need to think very much about sleep. It’s routine. It happens automatically. Even so, most of us sometimes just can’t sleep properly. We call it insomnia. It’s usually just for a short time, perhaps when we’re worried or excited. When things settle down, we start sleeping properly again. If you can’t sleep properly, it can be a real problem because we all need sleep to well keep healthy.
Who wouldn’t want more sleep? We live in a 24/7 world where the work of the day doesn’t have to end when it gets dark, work can start long before the sun comes up, and even when the work is done you’ve got a million-and-one distractions to keep you up well into the early hours surfing, blogging, chatting, networking – everything takes priority over getting a good night’s sleep.
An occasional night without sleep will make you feel tired the next day, but it won’t affect your health. However, after several sleepless nights, you will start to find that:
- you feel tired all the time
- you drop off during the day
- you find it difficult to concentrate
- you find it hard to make decisions
- you start to feel depressed
- you start to worry about not being able to sleep.
- Lack of sleep can make you more likely to get high blood pressure, diabetes and to be overweight.
How much sleep do we need?
- Babies sleep for about 17 hours each day.
- Older children only need 9 or 10 hours each night.
- Most adults need around 8 hours sleep each night.
- Older people need the same amount of sleep, but will often only have 1 period of deep sleep during the night, usually in the first 3 or 4 hours. After that, they wake more easily. We tend to dream less as we get older.
There are many everyday reasons for not sleeping well:
- the bedroom may be too noisy, too hot or too cold
- the bed may be uncomfortable or too small
- you don’t have a regular sleep routine
- you partner has a different pattern of sleep from you
- you aren’t getting enough exercise
- you eat too late – and find it hard to get off to sleep
- you go to bed hungry – and wake up too early
- cigarettes, alcohol and drinks containing caffeine, such as tea and coffee
- illness, pain or a high temperature.
More serious reasons include:
- emotional problems
- difficulties at work
- anxiety and worry
- depression – you wake very early and can’t get back to sleep
- thinking over and over about problems – usually without getting anywhere with them.
- physical problems
Sleep debt is the difference between the amount of sleep you need and the hours you actually get. Every time you forgo on sleep, you add to this debt. Ultimately, the debt will have to be repaid. It won’t go away on its own. If you lose an hour of sleep, you must make up that extra hour somewhere down the line in order to bring your “account” back into balance. Many of us try to repay our sleep debt by sleeping in on the weekends. But as it turns out, bouncing back from chronic lack of sleep isn’t that easy. One or two solid nights of sleep aren’t enough to pay off a long-term debt. While extra sleep can give you a temporary boost (for example, you may feel great on Monday morning after a relaxing weekend), your performance and energy will drop back down as the day wears on.
So now let’s see if we can help improve your nightly sleep pattern. Here are some tips for getting a better night sleep:
1.Go to bed and get up at about the same time every day, and I include the weekends. Adhering to a schedule helps strengthen your body’s sleep-wake cycle and can help you fall asleep more easily at night.
2.Don’t eat or drink large amounts before bedtime. Eat a light dinner at least two hours before sleeping. Also, limit how much you drink before bed. Too much liquid can cause you to wake up repeatedly during the night for trips to the toilet.
3.Avoid nicotine, caffeine and alcohol in the evening. These are stimulants that can keep you awake. Your body when filled with these stimulants can take hours to eliminate them and their effects and this can disrupt your sleep big style..
4.Exercise regularly. Those people that regularly participate in physical activity, especially aerobic exercise, find that they sleep better than those that don’t.
5.Make your bedroom cool, dark, quiet and comfortable. Create a room that’s ideal for sleeping. Adjust the lighting, temperature, humidity and noise level to your preferences. Use blackout curtains, eye covers, earplugs, extra blankets, a fan or white-noise generator, a humidifier or other devices to create an environment that suits your needs.
6. Sleep primarily at night. Daytime naps may steal hours from night time slumber. Limit daytime sleep to about a half-hour and make it during mid afternoon. If you work nights, keep your window coverings closed so that sunlight, which adjusts the body’s internal clock, doesn’t interrupt your sleep. If you have a day job and sleep at night, but still have trouble waking up, leave the window coverings open and let the sunlight help awaken you.
7.Choose a comfortable mattress and pillow. Features of a good bed are subjective and differ for each person. But make sure you have a bed that’s comfortable.
8.Start a relaxing bedtime routine. Do the same things each night to tell your body it’s time to wind down. This may include taking a warm bath or shower, reading a book, or listening to soothing music. Relaxing activities done with lowered lights can help ease the transition between wakefulness and sleepiness.
9.Go to bed when you’re tired and turn out the lights. If you don’t fall asleep within 15 to 20 minutes, get up and do something else. Go back to bed when you’re tired. Don’t agonize over falling asleep. The stress will only prevent sleep.
10. Take some time to relax properly before going to bed. Progressive muscle relaxation helps you to relax your muscles deeply. One by one, you tense and then release the muscles of your body, working up from your feet to your legs, arms, shoulders, face and neck. Stretch out in bed and, one by one, squeeze and release all the muscles in your body, starting with your scalp and working down to your toes. Ironically, tightly tensing up your muscles before relaxing them helps them relax more than just plain relaxing them.
11. Fill your room with relaxing scent. Aromas widely considered to be relaxing are rose, lavender, vanilla, and lemongrass, but different ones work for different people.
12. Don’t take your to-do list to bed. Write down the next day’s list early in the evening and stick it in your bag or briefcase. Then you won’t start restlessly making mental notes the minute your head hits the pillow. If something is troubling you and there is nothing you can do about it right away, try writing it down before going to bed and then tell yourself to deal with it tomorrow.
13. Cleanse your bedroom. No computers, no television, Don’t take your paperwork to bed, do nothing but sleep or of course take a little time to make love to your partner. Your bedroom should be a place your body associates with nothing else but sleep and yes, sex.
14. Step away from the computer and TV. Exposing yourself to the glow of a screen before bed will keep you awake. The light and glare is telling your body it’s time to perk up and be alert.
15. Don’t tell yourself you’re going to struggle to sleep. By telling yourself enough times that you will struggle to sleep well, because you always do, will brain wash you to know this is a fact, and guess what, you struggle to sleep yet again.
The best bridge between despair and hope is a good night’s sleep. ~E. Joseph Cossman