Everyone feels the effects of sleep, whether that means getting adequate amounts or not enough of it. There are even some folks who get too much sleep. It makes no difference how much sleep is right for you, if you aren’t getting enough you will suffer from sleep deprivation. Sure, some people believe they can get by with less sleep than others, but there are consequences to not allowing the body proper rest.
Appropriate amounts of sleep are critical for anyone’s health, and that includes more than just the physical. Emotional health is also affected by sleep and so is cognition. Those individuals who regularly get insufficient rest are more likely to suffer from a weak immune system. That means that they will probably become ill more often than another person who gets plenty of sleep. They will also find that their memories are not as good as they should be.
Satisfactory amounts of sleep also helps to reduce stress, and we all know how hard stress can be on the body. It contributes to numerous medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, anxiety, depression, insomnia, cancer and fatigue just to name a few. Stress can also lead to difficulties with personal as well as professional relationships. So, how can one make sure to get enough rest?
Arrange Your Life Around Sleep
- One of the most important things one can do to ensure adequate sleep is to get and stay healthy. A healthy diet and regular exercise go a long way toward setting anyone up for a good night’s sleep. Routines should be completed a few hours before regular bedtime to allow the body to come back to a resting state.
- Food and beverage intake has the tendency of stepping up the metabolism during the digestive process. For this reason it is best to allow 2 to3 hours between eating and going to bed. Caffeinated beverages should be avoided for several hours before turning in. There are other reasons for this as well. Heavy or spicy meals eaten near bedtime can cause the discomfort of heartburn. Too much fluid before bedtime call for nighttime trips to the bathroom which interrupts sleep.
- Create an environment that is conducive to sleep. Your bedroom should be used only for sleep, and not include a television or computer. Work and other stressful activities should never be performed in the bedroom. Your room should be cool, comfortable, and quiet, and provide a dark atmosphere when it’s time to go to bed. Your pillows and mattress should be supportive to prevent aches and pains during the night.
- Create a regular sleep routine so that your body will understand it is time for bed. Make sure to go to bed at the same time every night to support your body’s circadian rhythm. It is important to continue this sleep routine even on the weekends. Establish a relaxing routine that will help you relax. That could be listening to relaxing music, taking a warm bath with aroma therapy, or drinking a soothing cup of herb tea. If there is distracting light or noise in the vicinity wear earplugs or a sleep mask.
- Daily activities can have an impact on sleep. Getting outside to soak up sunlight has great sleep benefits by affecting the sleep cycle. Stressful activities or situations can hold over until bedtime unless they are dealt with properly. Maybe that is the reason most married couples are advised to never go to bed angry.
Quality of Sleep
These are just a few ways that anyone can make a difference in the amount and quality of sleep they get. Quality is just as important as amount of sleep since it involves uninterrupted rest. Many people have heard the term REM sleep, but few understand just what that is. REM is just one stage of sleep patterns, and there are three stages. The first stage is light sleep where you can be easily awakened. The second stage is a deeper sleep and REM is the deepest of all.
It is during the REM cycle that a person sorts out all the things that have happened to them during the day. Dreams take place at this stage because the same regions of the brain that are responsible for memories and learning are stimulated. If you have ever gone to bed at night thinking about a problem and wake up the next morning with the solution, this is probably the reason. It is likely that your brain sorted through all the information available to it and solved the problem.
It is not unusual to hear people saying that they are going to “sleep on it.” Sometimes it’s a way to evade a question, but it’s true that sleeping helps clear the head. Many experts believe that during sleep brain cell pathways needed to learn or remember a task are strengthened. Appropriate decision making is frequently impaired because of lack of sleep.
If these tips do not help you get a good night’s sleep you should consult your doctor to see if there is an underlying cause.