Savvy Sleep Tips Take You From “Good Night” to “Great Night”
The lights are out. The room is quiet. But the sheep you are counting are having a rave party and will not cooperate. When you finally fall asleep, you awaken periodically throughout the night. And when morning comes, you’re trapped in a too-familiar cycle: waking up sluggish and sleep-deprived, unable to function at your peak. When the day ends, it’s “Rinse and Repeat.”
WHY IS SLEEP VITAL FOR HEALTH?
Sleep plays a vital role in our good health, from mental health to our physical wellbeing and safety.
During sleep, your body performs tasks crucial for its function. Children and teens need proper sleep for growth and development. Healing also occurs during sleep. A host of diseases are also linked to a lack of sleep, including diabetes and kidney disease.
But sleep is especially critical for brain function and memory. During sleep, our brains form new neural pathways that enable learning and data storage and prepare us for the coming day.
Studies show that proper sleep improves learning, regardless of subject matter, and that without proper sleep creativity is decreased, as is our ability to focus and make decisions.
Sleep deficiency is also linked to an increase in compulsive behavior, and a decrease in immune response. It’s linked to depression… even suicide. And a lack of sleep has been linked to increases obesity in all age groups.
After several nights of losing sleep—even if you lose just one or two hours per night—your abilities suffer.
Yet most of us aren’t aware of these risks or the fact that you can’t just “make up” for lost sleep. We think we are still functioning at peak performance. But sleep deprivation causes thousands of driving and at-work accidents each year, leaving behind a trail of injuries and death.
WHAT CAN KEEP PEOPLE FROM GETTING A GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP?
Serious medical issues can be behind poor sleep. The most common of these is Sleep Apnea. This is a disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts. Snoring loudly is a warning sign of Sleep Apnea, as is feeling very tired even after a full night’s sleep.
It’s always a good idea to see a doctor and rule out serious medical issues. But luckily, Sleep Apnea only occurs in about 10% of poor sleepers. The most common culprits are not serious and are classified as either “environmental factors” or “Psycho-Physiological Factors. ”
WHAT “PSYCHO-PHYSIOLOGICAL” FACTORS IMPACT SLEEP?
Psycho-physiological sleep deprivation is all about stress. Stress can trigger our Flight or Fight system to keep us awake, telling us there is danger without any real danger present. 70% of poor sleep is caused by “Psycho-Physiological” factors.
WHAT’S THE BEST ENVIRONMENT FOR A SOUND NIGHT’S SLEEP?
Your sleep-friendly bedroom should be dark, quiet, comfortable, and cool.
Environmental factors that impact your sleeping include sound, light, and temperature. Sound disruptions can range from loud birds or cars on a busy street to your snoring partner, by far the most common sound issue. For sounds outside of your bedroom, window coverings, soundproofing, and moving your bed away from the window can help.
For a snoring partner, there are as many remedies as there are snorers. Try to find one that works for both of you and consult a doctor, if needed, to rule out Sleep Apnea.
Light disruptions are easier to remedy. Avoid stimulating activities right before bedtime, such as video games or being on social media. Rather than helping you sleep, the light from your computer or television signals your brain to stay awake.
Temperature can be an issue if your home or apartment doesn’t have air conditioning. The ideal sleeping temperature is between 15 and 18 degrees Celsius (60 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit). If the external temperature is right and you still can’t sleep, try placing a hot water bottle at your feet or wearing socks. These dilate blood vessels to help your internal thermostat reach an ideal setting. Trying to get your toddler to bed? Raising the thermostat to between 65 and 70 degrees and keeping the crib or bed away from windows or fans can help.
OUR SUGGESTED SLEEPING ROUTINE
Getting a great night’s sleep is all about having a good routine to help your body wind down and relax. Here’s our suggested routine:
- Keep a regular schedule and try to wake up at the same time each day
- Create a relaxing bedtime ritual, like reading a book, taking a warm bath, or listening to soothing music
- Keep work out of the bedroom, and eliminate distractions like TVs
- Stop eating two to three hours before bedtime
- Get regular exercise—being fit is your best protection against a wide range of issues
- Don’t drink coffee or other caffeinated drinks for several hours before bedtime
- Avoid alcohol and tobacco right before bed, as both of these can hurt the quality of your sleep
Getting a good night’s sleep on a regular basis is one of the most important things you can do for your overall health and well-being. You’ll be amazed at how much better you feel during the day, and how much better you perform in almost every aspect of your life.