If you’re seeking better sleep, you’ve probably run head-first into the effects of not sleeping well. Your health, relationships, and responsibilities suffer when you don’t rest.
Effects of Sleep Deprivation
- Ongoing sleep deficiency puts you at greater risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, kidney disease, and stroke.
- Poor sleep also places you at higher risk of Type 2 diabetes and obesity. That’s because sleep helps to regulate the hormones that trigger hunger (ghrelin) and feeling satisfied (leptin). A lack of sleep overloads the body on ghrelin while subduing leptin. We tend to overeat when we don’t get adequate sleep.
- When you’re not sleeping well, you may also feeling groggy, irritable, unable to focus, and absolutely exhausted midday. Important areas of your life, like your relationships, career, and hobbies may suffer from your lack of rest.
Benefits of Consistent, Good Sleep
When you improve your sleeping habits and rest well–between 6-8 hours for most adults–you will receive the following benefits.
- Cellular regeneration: during sleep, our blood vessels, heart, and other tissues repair themselves from strain or damage done throughout the day.
- Mental reset: the brain forms new pathways of learning and remembering at night. These neuro pathways lead to improved memory, improved learning ability, and fewer feelings of frustration or doubt when we encounter challenges throughout the day.
- Revelation and insight through dreams: dreams let us effortlessly release our creativity. We aren’t distracted by the physical world (TV, phones, or even our negative self-talk) so our minds are able to wonder and problem solve better. It’s still a bit of a mystery but there are enough anecdotes to make it worthy of consideration. Many professionals report that they’ve had breakthroughs in inventions and solving complex mathematical during their dream cycle.
- When you’re well rested, you will often feel better and demonstrate a better mood and more positive outlook throughout the day.
5 Easy Tips to Improve Your Sleep
Our modern lifestyles are not conducive to a good night’s rest. So many modern advancements defeat our natural sleep cycles and sleep environments. By making small changes, we can re-establish healthy habits and reap the positive, long-lasting benefits of sleep.
1. 30-Minute Wind Down– If it takes you more than 20 minutes to fall asleep, start winding down at least 30 minutes to 1 hour before bed.
Our circadian cycle responds to light, even artificial light. To wind down, turn off unneeded light sources and dim needed ones, if possible. THIS INCLUDES MOBILE DEVICES! An hour before bed, switch on your blue-light minimizing function. The blue light stimulates brain activity so by removing that wavelength, the brain can begin to relax. Half an hour before bedtime, turn off electronic devices completely. Do not check email or social media. Put it away! The light and subject matter of what you’re viewing will only stimulate your brain, making it harder to go to sleep.
Set a steady schedule for the week, particularly weekdays. Wind down, sleep, and wake up at consistent times. Consistency supports your circadian cycle.
2. Create an atmosphere of rest. Do whatever helps your body and mind relax: diffuse a blend of lavender and cedarwood or other custom essential oil blends to promote rest. You may also consider gentle or restorative yoga to work out the “kinks” in the body that build up throughout the day.
If you regularly feel discomfort upon waking, it may be time for a new mattress. It’s worth the investment to sleep well!
3. Examine your diet for stimulants. When the first two tips are not enough, check for stimulant overhauls in your diet. Avoid stimulants, like caffeine–found in sodas, energy drinks, coffee, as well as black, white, and green teas– for at least 5 hours before bed. Most stimulants linger in your system 4-6 hours after consuming them.
If you are uncertain about stimulants in our diet, consult one of our wellness coaches or dietician.
4. Avoid triggers for the sympathetic nervous system. There are lots of things that can disturb your sense of serenity. Identify them and avoid them for at least an hour before bed.
Anything that gets your heart rate pumping, sends your mind racing, or makes your breath shallow is a trigger for your sypmathetic nervous system. The stiumulus activates your fight or flight response.
Sometimes triggers are hard to detect: they can be a captivating TV show like Game of Thrones or Insecure. (Even comedies that make social commentary can be agitating.) The trigger can be a certain person that worries, infuriates, or confuses you. Reading the news or even listening to your favorite MP3s may be triggers if they excite you.
5. Minimize your nap time. Naps are tricky. A study at NASA on sleepy military pilots and astronauts found that a 40-minute nap improved their performance by 34% and alertness 100%. Conversely, naps beyond 20 minutes can leave you with sleep inertia.
Sleep inertia is the grogginess and disorientation that can come with awakening quickly from a deep sleep. The feeling is often short lived but in some cases it makes naps counterproductive to those who must return to work or other responsibilities. Long daytime naps can also interfere with nighttime sleep.
If you choose to nap during the day, limit yourself to about 10 to 30 minutes and monitor its effects on your nighttime sleep.
For customized guidance to improve your health, register for our Personal Wellness Advocate program. You will work one-on-one with one of our private wellness coaches to pursuit total-life health!