Attaining Good Sleep
The body needs good sleep as much as it needs good, healthy food and clean water.
In today’s often fast-paced world and with our often workaholic lifestyles, we tend to let work disturb our rest.
There’s no quicker way to deteriorate the body than depriving it of sleep. Even a few nights in a row of 5-hours of sleep can have harmful effects on your day-to-day functioning.
If you have recently experienced any of the following symptoms, you could be suffering from a lack of quality sleep:
- Increased stress
- Short-term memory difficulties
- Weight gain
Let’s find out more about getting a good night’s rest...
What is “Good” Sleep?
Good sleep is not just 8 hours of lying down in your bed, but rather, good sleep is when your body reaches its deepest level of relaxation and restoration.
The REM state is the deepest stage of sleep.
It is the mind’s time for maintenance and it is also the state where dreaming occurs.
As we will read on, getting 8 hours of sleep is not necessarily what constitutes good sleep... For example, sleep medication and alcohol deprive your body of REM time, making the hours of sleep you do get count much less for your body's restoration! Thus, 8 hours of intoxicated or medicated sleep is the equivalent of about 4 hours of normal sleep.
Good Sleep Is Important
Besides decreasing the chances of developing heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and arthritis, getting better quality sleep can also help you to lose weight. You heard that right!
Sleep patterns are intimately linked with eating and digestion patterns and correct bodily function.
Messing up your sleeping routine will decrease your body’s metabolism and cause more energy to be stored as fat instead.
Other advantages of good sleep include:
- Improved memory
- Reduced inflammation in the body
- Lowered stress
- Increased athletic endurance
- Sharpened attention span for children
- More creativity
- A longer life
Another under-appreciated reason to stock up on your Zs is that it improves your driving and helps keep you away from car accidents. In 2014, lack of sleep was the number 1 cause of car accidents—even more than alcohol!
Tips to Achieve Good Sleep
Stick with a schedule
All it takes is one day of sleeping until 1 p.m. to completely throw off your sleep cycle. Figure out a waking and sleeping schedule that works for you on weekdays and continue following it on the weekends.
Sleeping in late on Sundays turns into late Sunday nights and brutal Monday mornings. Set two alarms on your phone: one that tells you when to wake up and another that tells you when to go to sleep, if it helps you stick to the plan.
- Create a bedtime routine
Successful people live very routine-oriented lives. Get yourself into the habit of doing something specific before bed, such as reading a book or taking a walk..
Your body will naturally associate the activity to bedtime and you willl actually feel yourself getting sleepy over time, somewhat akin to Pavlov’s classical conditioning experiment with his salivating dogs.
- Pay attention to your diet
Caffeine seems to be in everyone’s lives these days.
If you’re not careful though, you could end up pumping your body full of caffeine just before you try and turn in for the night. Avoid caffeinated beverages after late afternoon where possible to make sure your body has ample time to flush out the caffeine so you can sleep well at bedtime.
- Avoid drinking alchohol
Although drinking alcohol may make you feel sleepy, intoxicated sleep is no substitute for the real thing!
With alcohol in your system, your body will struggle to reach its deepest level of sleep where most of the physical and mental restoration occurs.
- Do some physical activity daily
We’re not saying you need to hit the gym everyday to sleep well at night. However, daily physical activity will definitely help you sleep better. For one thing, physical activity naturally relieves stress. Stress is the number one thing that interferes with healthy sleep. Not to mention, just being active makes you tired and want to rest and hit the sheets at the end of the day!
Therefore, work a little physical activity into your daily routine and you’ll see a big change in the quality of your sleep and your life.
- Avoid late naps
While midday naps are common and often necessitated in many cultures around the world, doing them wrong, ie. by sleeping too late in the day, can actually be detrimental to your sleeping routine. Just hold on a little longer if you passed the optimum nap time! Naps can feel heavenly, but you have to pay for them later if you take them too late. For example, when you have work the next morning, there’s little worse than needing to get to sleep early and being unable to do so.
- Choose natural methods over medical ones
Although we are not trying to give you medical advice (you need to speak to your doctor about that), natural methods, like the tips we have mentioned so far, are much better than relying on medicine to help you get your rest. Taking tylenol and melatonin may help you get to sleep faster but they will also often have you feeling groggy well into the morning.
That's all for now!
We hope these tips were helpful for improving your sleeping routine and sleep quality. Remember that sleep is essential to optimum functioning and cannot be compromised for anything! Therefore, relax, rest well and get “good quality sleep”!