by admin

October 29, 2021

Sleep is an essential part of our lives and something we don’t always give enough attention to. Research shows that the quality and quantity of our sleep has a serious impact on our health and well being. Too often, we assume that the amount of sleep we get is beyond our control. There are ways to improve this critical area of our lives. 

The Importance of Consistent Sleep 

Everyone understands that sleep is necessary for us to feel rested. However, it goes beyond the obvious and has an influence on nearly every area of our lives. 

  • Affects concentration and productivity. Whether you’re an employee, business owner, or student, you need to be well-rested in order to focus on what you’re doing. Studies show that sleep deprivation harms performance for both mental and physical tasks. 
  • Influences your mood. Lack of sleep can contribute to mood swings, depression, anxiety, and irritability. It can worsen existing mental or mood disorders. Conversely, feeling well-rested can help you feel more relaxed and optimistic. 
  • Lack of sleep can contribute to obesity. It may seem counterintuitive that less sleep can cause you to gain weight. However, research correlates a lack of sleep with being overweight. Health experts believe that losing sleep triggers hormones that increase appetite. 
  • Better sleep lowers your risk of many diseases. Lack of sleep has been connected to heart disease, high blood pressure, and Type 2 diabetes. 

How Much Sleep Do You Need?

There’s no perfect number of hours that’s true for everyone. It varies based on your age, lifestyle, and genetic makeup. Most experts agree, however, that the average adult should get at least 6 hours per 24 hour period.

Children and teens require more while after around age 65, you can get by on a little less. You need to pay attention to your own needs. If you’re extremely active or under unusual stress, you’ll need additional sleep. 

How to Get More and Better Sleep

There are countless remedies for getting more sleep, some of them questionable, and others potentially dangerous. Medication, for example, can help you sleep but may have undesirable side effects (such as drowsiness during waking hours) and can be habit-forming.

Let’s look at some of the most effective yet safe ways to improve your sleeping patterns. 

  • Maintain consistent hours. If you stay up much later on weekends, sleep later in the morning, it will be hard to readjust to your weekday schedule. A consistent routine allows the body to get accustomed to a regular cycle. 
  • Watch your intake of caffeine and alcohol. Caffeinated beverages, even in the afternoon, can interfere with sleep. Consuming alcohol at night can disturb sleep as well. 
  • Avoid eating late at night. A late dinner or snack forces your digestive system to work during hours you should be resting. Avoiding carbohydrates and large meals for around 4 hours before bed can help you sleep better. 
  • Get exercise and fresh air. A sedentary lifestyle can contribute to insomnia. It’s also beneficial to get a certain amount of fresh air and sunlight every day. On the other hand, don’t engage in strenuous exercise right before bed as this can be overly stimulating. 
  • Unwind before bed. Avoid looking at screens for an hour before retiring. This includes TV, phones, and computers. Relaxing music, reading, or a warm bath are good for getting your body ready for slumber. 

When to Seek Medical Advice

If you are experiencing severe insomnia, you should seek medical help. Extreme sleep deprivation can be dangerous.

Certain sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea, can interfere with your breathing and be quite dangerous. Frequent snoring is one symptom of sleep apnea. Medical professionals may provide you with a positive airway pressure machine, a device to help you breathe while sleeping. They can also diagnose any underlying health problems that might be causing your insomnia.

Natural Remedies

For occasional bouts of insomnia, natural remedies may be helpful. These include:

  • Melatonin. A natural hormone that you can purchase over-the-counter or online.
  • Magnesium. An essential mineral that many people are deficient in. A combination of calcium, magnesium, and Vitamin D supplement can be helpful for sleep and overall health. 
  • Valerian. A powerful herb that can be helpful for sleep. However, it sometimes has side effects and there are contraindications to consider (e.g. you should avoid it if you’re pregnant) so use with caution. 
  • Tryptophan. An amino acid that can be helpful for relaxing, relieving anxiety, and falling asleep. 
  • Lavender aromatherapy. The scent of lavender, found in essential oils, can be relaxing and conducive to sleep. Lavender shouldn’t be consumed. 

Take Sleep Seriously

Don’t underestimate the value of sleep. Even missing an hour of essential rest every night adds up and can contribute to fatigue, lower productivity, and various mental and physical problems.

Although you may not give sleep much thought during the day, it has an impact on every area of your life. Pay attention to your sleeping habits and identify any factors that may be causing you to lose precious rest. 

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