For many of us, sleep is a sweet escape from reality. Closing your eyes for a few minutes can make you feel refreshed and ready to take on multiple tasks. On the other hand, lack of adequate sleep can cause you to feel groggy, irritable, angry, depressed, and so on.
Sometimes, we come face to face with a reminder that we should get at least seven or eight hours of sleep. Functioning on less than seven hours is possible but, you will need to catch up on the lost hours one day. You can’t cheat nature. Sleep hygiene refers to actions you take to ensure you sleep well daily. Here are some tips recommended by American Sleep Association:
- Have a Sleep Schedule: You should have a regular time you sleep on weekdays and weekends. A constant time will help your body regulate well because it knows what to expect. You will be so used to the schedule, that it will be a struggle to stay awake on days that time passes. Sticking to your plan will help you fall asleep better in the night.
- Cultivate a Soothing Bedtime Ritual: Activities we go through during the day can be quite stressful. However, if you have a habit you go through every night before bedtime, your brain will automatically separate daytime from nighttime. You could try taking a hot shower or bath.
- Avoid Napping: Power naps are good because they help you function better. If you have trouble sleeping at night after taking a power nap, avoid it at all cost. Your sleep at nighttime is more important than a power nap. A power nap will only give you strength for a few hours while a good night sleep can last you the whole day.
- Try to Exercise Daily: Any form of exercise will make you tired. You cannot avoid it. If you want to practice good sleep hygiene, exercise daily. You don’t have to go to a gym. You can workout in the comfort of your home.
- Make Sure You Have a Comfortable Room: Your room temperature should be what you can handle. If your room is too hot or too cold, you might have trouble falling asleep. Also, make sure your mattress is comfortable. If you experience pain in any part of your body because your bed is old, change it.
Why You Need Adequate Sleep
We are sure you read earlier that you need adequate sleep to function well during the day. Here are more reasons you need adequate sleep:
- Your Memory Will Improve: If you are a student, practice good sleep hygiene. When you sleep, your mind gets busy trying to strengthen memories, skills or principles you learnt throughout the day. That is why experts say when you learn a new thing, try to sleep almost immediately, even if it’s for five minutes. What you just studied will stick in your brain better.
- You Will Live Longer: Research has shown that those who get about 5-6 hours’ sleep per night die quicker than those who get about 7-8 hours daily. That’s not to say you should sleep for hours. Too much sleep can cause a shorter lifespan.
- You Will Have a Healthy Weight: Lack of sleep can cause you to be irritable. You can also experience stress. When you are stressed, your body releases cortisol which is a hormone that stimulates food cravings. However, if you sleep well, you will reduce the possibility of being stressed and less production of cortisol. The outcome is you will not put on unnecessary weight.
- It Prevents Anxiety, Depression, and Other Diseases: Asides the fact that we need to sleep to increase productivity level, our body’s immune system also needs adequate rest. The fact is when we sleep, so many processes go on inside us that we don’t know. Lack of adequate sleep reduces the time those organs and systems need to function at maximum capacity.
- It Slows Down the Ageing Process: We are sure most people reading this wished they could stay young forever. While you may not be able to, you can stop wrinkles from developing on your face earlier. Research has shown that renewal of skin and elimination of waste takes place when we sleep. In essence, having a good sleep hygiene can slow down your ageing process.
Everyday Habits That Deny You Good Sleep
As much as you want to sleep well at night, there are some things you do every day that denies you that pleasure. Here are some of them:
- Snacking on Refined Grains, Sugars and Fizzy Drinks: You should watch what you put into your stomach. If you plan to sleep in 3 hours’ time, stay away from foods that have high sugar content. Foods like that are meant to boost your metabolism by raising your blood sugar. You might find yourself counting the ceiling for hours after eating or drinking them because the organs involved in hormone regulation have not shut down. Since the organs are awake, you have to stay awake too.
- Taking Too Much Caffeine: The function of caffeine is to keep you from falling asleep. The effects of taking caffeine do not wear out until hours later. If you want to have a good night sleep, you should cut out caffeine from your diet. If you must take caffeinated drinks, reduce the quantity to one cup in the morning. By the time you want to fall asleep in the night, the effects should have worn off.
- Using Sleeping Pills or Herbal Remedies: Doctors prescribe sleeping pills as a last resort for someone that has insomnia. Taking the medication for a long time can have an adverse effect. They will make you stay awake, instead of sleeping. Herbal remedies that are advertised to help you sleep might also do the opposite. They are made from herbs which have different effects on diverse people.
- Worrying about Problems: When you worry, you stress your brain. You need to tell your brain to stop working when you want to sleep. If you constantly worry about problems, you are affecting your ability to have a good sleep.
Sleep hygiene is not hard to practice. The principles are simple to follow and incorporate into your everyday life. Sleeping well will not only cause you to be more active during the day. You will be more productive and happy. Enjoy your sleep!
Photo Credit: Egoodh