The Importance of Good ZzZZz
If you are anything like me, then you try to get the most out of every minute of the day. Trying to be proactive and productive constantly is exhausting. Without 8 hours of sleep a night, I can feel how run down I start to get. If I burn the candle at both ends too many nights in a row by going to bed late and waking up early, my body begins to shut down. I wake up feeling more tired than the night before, I am sick to my stomach, I have no energy and any other number of things our bodies try to tell us when we are sleep deprived. After too many sleep deprived nights, I start to get cold symptoms: sore throat, running nose, fatigue, etc.
We all know sleep is important but why is it so important?
When we sleep, it gives our bodies a chance to recover and rebuild. It is the one time of the day where our mind and bodies are not overly stimulated and have the chance to relax and rejuvenate. By cycling through our stages of sleep, our bodies reset and prepare us for the next day to come. Everyone has different sleep-wake patterns according to their own circadian rhythm (biological clock), which is why some people go to bed late and wake up later and others go to bed early and wake up early. Also, everyone has their ideal number of hours of sleep to which their body needs to operate at its optimum level. What works for other people, may not work for you. In other words, just because your best friend only needs to sleep 5 hours a night, does not mean that you only need 5 hours of sleep each night.
Knowing you need sleep and actually getting enough sleep is a whole different story.
For the majority of us, there are too many things to accomplish and not enough time in the day to squeeze it all in. By the time we lay down to go to bed, our minds are still racing a million miles a minute trying to sort out everything we have to do the next day. This is not conducive to a restful sleep. In fact, these high levels of stress result in less restful sleep and even cause vivid dreams and nightmares in some individuals.
So what can we do to try and get a better night’s sleep? We can mentally train ourselves to develop a sleep hygiene routine.
Sleep hygiene is defined as habits and practices that are conducive to sleeping well on a regular basis. Here are some simple tips to improve sleep hygiene and make the most of the hours we spend in bed:
1. Don’t drink too many liquids in the hour before you are going to go to sleep- that way you don’t wake up in the middle of the night having to go to the bathroom
2. Take time to wind down in the evening- if this means you need to take a hot bath, read a book, or spend some quiet time meditating…do what you need to do
3. Try to get in bed the same time every night even if you are not tired- your body will begin to get used to your time schedule
4. If you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t sleep, get out of bed- do not just lay in your bed frustrated that you can’t fall back asleep, get up and get some water then head back to bed when you are ready
5. Shut down all electronics with a bright screen 30 minutes before bed. Phones and televisions tend to overstimulate our minds and bodies and cause us to stay awake longer.
6. Do not use your bed for anything besides sleeping and intimate actives. If you eat in your bed and watch television in your bed, your body will learn that the bed is for a multitude of activities. You want your body to be trained that the bed is for sleep.
7. An effective sleep routine takes trial and error to develop. Once you find a sleep hygiene routine that works for you, stick with it!
photo cred: www.relatably.com (angry cat)