Diet and exercise are main focus points when discussing health but there's another activity that consumes more time than eating or working out that dramatically impacts our health. Can you guess what it is?
Sleep! Experts recommend a minimum of 7-9 hours a night but many struggle to come close to that number on a consistent basis. All while sleep deprivation is known to have a chain reaction of negative effects on metabolism, aging, alertness, judgment and memory.
The call of modern life to get more accomplished is difficult to ignore. A seemingly easy way to find more time in a day is to sacrifice sleep. However, sleep is an absolute need for the body. Sleep plays a role in the regulation of the immune system. Sleep allows the brain to clean up debris from a day of working and thinking. The bodily functions performed while you snooze are important and vast but statistics indicate many of us aren't getting enough.
So what to do if a full 8 hours of daily rest eludes you?
- Take a nap. While naps don't compensate for disrupted sleep at night, they help with mood, impulse control and focus.
- Squeeze exercise in as often as possible. Go for a long walk, pull some weeds in the garden or practice yoga. Moving the body leads to better quality sleep. Just be sure to complete a workout at least three hours before bedtime.
- Mind what you eat and drink in the hours right before bedtime. Coffee and tea are obvious but did you know alcohol can also make your sleep less sound?
- Keep electronics that emit light outside of your bedroom. The light cast from devices can mess with the body's production of melatonin as well as its circadian rhythm.
- Draw the curtains tight or try an eye mask if your bedroom window faces a brightly lit street.
- Make the bedroom a sanctuary for catching z's. Clean sheets often, invest in lavender oil and reserve the bedroom strictly for sleeping activities.
- Create a night time schedule. Wind down by dimming lights, keeping noise to a minimum and tapering off use of TVs and smartphones. Head to bed at around the same time on both work nights and weekends. Creating a daily routine gets the brain primed for sleep.
- Catch up if you've lost a few hours of sleep. Scientists find an extra few hours of sleep can help make up for a sleep deficit. Get to bed earlier following a sleepless night or catch a few extra hours on the weekend.
How many hours of sleep do you usually get? What helps you sleep soundly?