Western culture is raging war against your sleep. If you ask any adult about their perfect weekend? They might probably mention long sleep and naps in between. We feel exhausted. You fight crazy schedules trying to survive your work, hang with family and friends and possibly get left-over time to be with yourself.
How many times has the thought “I have to wake up in three hours for my shift” crossed your mind? I’d take a wild guess and say, “more than you’d like to admit.”
Sleep is important to maintain your weight, retain memories, increase productivity and focus, heal and detoxify, restore balance to your immune system, curb inflammation, solve analytical problems, reach hormonal balance and navigate future social interactions.
8 Reasons Why It’s Important to Sleep well
Good sleep is just as important as eating healthy or exercising
You know that sleep is important, but the great chance is, you’re still struggling to get quality shut-eye. Lifestyles and technology pump different factors of sleep havoc into our daily habits.
Here are ten ways to get better at your night routine.
1. Stick to your sleep schedule
People are creatures of habit. When we go to sleep and wake up around the same time, our bodies remember the pattern. Building quality sleep schedule will help you wake up more refreshed. Throughout the day, you’ll feel energized and alert.
2. Watch out for your caffeine and alcohol intake
It would be almost impossible to survive your morning without the favorite double-shot-mocha-salted-caramel-chocolate-ice-frappuccino. Unfortunately, caffeine stays in your system for up to 36 hours. Some people might feel energized even twelve hours after consumption. This, unfortunately, decreases your sleep quality and creates another caffeine craving the next morning, because you might wake up tired. Alcohol is no better. It will help you fall asleep, but you won’t get the same rest. Also, you might end up snoring and destroying the sleep of others.
3. Get rid of electronics before bed
I’m to first to admit having trouble checking up on my phone or watching TV before sleep. Sometimes, I even fall asleep while using my devices. The problem is the blue light. It mimics the sunlight and confuses our internal clocks. We tend to produce less of hormone melatonin if we use such devices at night. Melatonin is responsible for signaling our body it’s time to sleep.
There might be a way around this issue. New computers, phones, and tables have Blue light filters or night modes available- experiment with them. They might not be the perfect solution, but it’s better than not doing anything at all.
4. Understand the Sleep cycle
Humans conduct sleep in five stages; first, second, third, fourth and REM. All of the stages, combined are called sleep cycle. These phases take approximately 90 minutes to finish one full round. In the first stage, we are powering down and drifting to the dreamland. In the latest — REM (Rapid Eye Movement) stage — we tend to experience vivid dreams. If we wake up at the end of the cycle, we’ll feel refreshed and ready to jumpstart the day. Try setting your alarm in 90 minutes interval — get three, six or seven and half hours of sleep.
5. Shut the curtains and make your room pitch black
Daylight directly impacts your internal signals to rest. I already mentioned the hormone Melatonin which depletes when we experience sunlight. Staying asleep in the morning is equally important as sleeping at night. If we pollute our rooms with outside light, it might be hard for our bodies to relax.
6. Set the right temperature
I already mentioned the importance of your room being dark while getting much-needed sleep. The heat also plays an important role. According to studies, the optimal sleep temperature is around 68F/20C. The right temperature helps us foster sleep inducing circadian rhythms. This makes the best environment to sleep dark and cool.
7. Get the right mattress and pillows
We spent at least one-third of our lives in beds. Getting the right mattress could be crucial for your health. Before buying a new one, try a few and see what serves you well. Also, try to position the bed against the doors. Our evolutionary practices made us wary of what could come from the other side in the middle of the night.
8. Don’t eat junk before bed
Bad night eating habit is known to screw up with your metabolism while trying to get rest. You might feel sleepy after binge eating, but your body won’t be grateful. A great practice is to avoid eating anything before going to bed. If you’re desperately craving something, try to aim for proteins and healthy fats — chicken with hummus or cottage cheese with olive oil are both a good pick. They slow down your metabolism and help stabilize your blood sugar. Such a meal helps to unwind your body for sleep.
9. Hit the gym, walk or run
Get out and be active. Your body will thank you later. If we get physically exhausted during the day, it will be easier to fall asleep. This helps get rid of the feeling when you’re mentally exhausted but can’t sleep.
10. Supplement your Routine
There are several supplements you can take to increase the quality of your resting period. Here are a few over-the-counter supplements that will boost your sleep.
- Magnesium is excellent for everybody. It helps you relax your muscle and it plays a role in supporting deep sleep. Also, insomnia is a common symptom of magnesium deficiency.
- Melatonin is the only hormone you can buy without any prescription. It’s the same one we produce to signal our bodies when it’s time to sleep. Our modern environment affects our natural production of Melatonin. This OTC hormone will help you fall asleep, but it’s advisable to consult your physician before you start popping them regularly.
- 5HTP affects both sleep and mood. Same as Melatonin, our bodies produce it naturally. This substance helps replenish serotonin levels, another essential feel-good hormone. As we age, natural levels of 5HTP decline. This Supplement can cause vivid dreams, feeling of greater rest and elevated mood during the day.
If you want to perform well in your personal life and maximize your output with work, good sleeping habits are essential. I know that it’s hard to get proper rest with everything on your mind and the crazy lifestyle you might live, but with this knowledge, you can start tweaking your sleeping routine.
Watch out for what you consume, get a proper mattress, be active during the day, set the right temperature in your room and shut the curtains. Sweet dreams.