In today’s fast paced life, many people follow the mindset that “Sleep is for the dead only”. They believe in the philosophy of “doing” rather than “being”. Most of us think of sleep as a “waste of time”. Let’s talk about importance of sleep and strategies to improve sleep.
It is important to recognize that not getting enough sleep is not a healthy lifestyle. We must realize the importance of sleep for a healthy mental and physical life. Getting enough quality sleep at the right times can help protect your mental health, physical health, and quality of life. During sleep, our body works to support healthy brain function and maintain our physical health.
Unfortunately, due to multiple reasons, many of us aren’t getting enough sleep. With the hectic pace of modern day life, sleep might feel like a luxury we can’t afford. However, from a medical perspective, it is absolutely essential to get good sleep if you want to keep your body and brain healthy.
While there is still a lot to learn about sleep and its role in our wellbeing, people are now beginning to understand its major impact on the health and our brains.
So How does Sleep Affect our Brains
Good quality sleep is fundamentally important for a healthy immune system. It appears to affect:
- your hunger,
- your metabolic rate,
- your weight,
- your immune system
Sleep is involved in healing and repair of our heart and blood vessels therefore, continued sleep deficiency is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke. Sleep deficiency also increases the risk of obesity. For example, one study of teenagers showed that with each hour of sleep lost, the odds of becoming obese went up.
While a lot of research is available on how to have a good night’s sleep, you can read a few simple strategies to improve your sleep below:
Simple Strategies to Improve Sleep
Take a Relaxing Bath or Shower
A relaxing bath or shower is an effective way to sleep better. Studies indicate that a nice shower before bed can help improve overall sleep quality and help people fall asleep faster. In one study, taking a hot bath 90 minutes before bed improved sleep quality and helped people get more deep sleep. Alternatively, if you don’t want to take a full bath at night, simply soaking your feet in hot water can help you relax and improve sleep.
Stop Caffeine by 2:00 PM Every Day
Remember, the half life of caffeine is 6 to 8 hours, so stopping caffeine by 2:00 PM is important if you’re planning a bedtime that is around 10:00 P.M. or earlier. In other words, an 8 oz cup of coffee has around 100 mg of caffeine, so having a coffee at 4:00 pm means you will still have 50mg of caffeine in your system at 10:00 P.M which might disturb your sleep cycle.
Exercising during the day can help strengthen your circadian rhythm, and promote daytime alertness.
However, it may be best to avoid exercise right before bedtime. This is because intense physical activity can raise your body temperature and disrupt sleep. Try to get your exercise completed at least 4 hours before bedtime, which will give you time to relax before bed
Get a Comfortable Bed, Mattress and/or Pillow
One study looked at the benefits of a new mattress for 28 days, revealing that it reduced back pain by 57%, shoulder pain by 60%, and back stiffness by 59%. It also improved sleep quality by 60%
There are several studies that tells us that new bedding can enhance sleep. Additionally, poor quality bedding can lead to increased lower back pain. It is recommended that you upgrade your bedding at least every 5–8 years.
Sleep in a Cooler Environment
Your sleep cycle follows your body temperature cycle. In the evening, your body temperature falls. This drop is a signal to your brain that it is time to sleep. Sleeping in a cooler environment by lowering the room temperature encourages this process, helping you get to sleep quicker and easier.
Do a Meditation Practice Before Bed
Meditation is a wonderful tool for stress relief, reducing anxiety, and getting your mind and body relaxed and ready for sleep. Practicing meditation before bed can go a long way towards putting you in the mood for sleep.
Magnesium and Melatonin
The magnesium that we get from our food, is often not enough. Magnesium helps your tense muscles to relax and has also been shown to reduce stress. Both these issues can contribute to insomnia, instead of restful sleep.
As mentioned above, having a warm bath before sleep is always good and why not try adding magnesium flakes to the bathwater. Your skin can absorb the magnesium and get it into the blood stream. The other method to try is magnesium in capsule form. Make sure to consult your doctor before taking any supplements
If your natural melatonin production is slow, it could be causing issues with your sleep. Melatonin is what the brain releases when we settle down for sleep and the variety of sleep stages we go through. Get sunlight in the morning as it is one of the best sources of melatonin production for our brain.
If you have any other tips and tricks to sleep well, do share with us in the comments. Happy Sleeping <3
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