The importance of sleep has been frequently overlooked, with many getting less than the optimal 8 hours of quality sleep every night. This is worrying, as a lack of sleep is extremely harmful to the body. Sleep deprivation hinders the ability of the mind to relax and therefore leave it constantly in a fight or flight state, which affects the general health of the body.
Why is Sleep Important?
As a student, I thought I thrived on less sleep. I would spend many nights burning the proverbial midnight oil to finish assignments on time, surviving on a sinful amount of energy drinks. Sure, I finished my work and also did well on it. But on the health front, I was losing. I felt lethargic in the day and when that last can of energy drink finished, I crashed into bed, only to wake up feeling even more exhausted.
Getting adequate sleep each day is essential to the human body because our system needs rest, much like how our electronics need a recharge. Chronic sleep loss can put us at risk for many health problems including heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke. A lack of sleep impairs cognitive processes including alertness, concentration and reasoning – skills that we use in our day-to-day lives.
So how do we get a good night’s sleep? Here are some effective tips:
Stick to A Schedule
Create a sleep schedule for yourself. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time everyday. Creating a consistent schedule will help regulate your body clock, which will help you fall asleep and stay asleep regularly.
Where possible, make it a habit of going to be early and then rising early to start your day. Try to get at least eight hours of adequate sleep every day; it has been linked to being productive at work.
Get A Relaxing Ritual Going
A relaxing ritual before bedtime will help you fall asleep easier and get sufficient rest. Relaxing allows the body and mind to accept sleep better; relaxation enables the production of melatonin naturally – a neurochemical essential for deep and restful sleep.
Start the relaxation ritual by dimming the lights, diffusing calming essential oils and turning off your electronic devices. A meditation practice before sleep will also aid in relaxation by reducing stress and calming the mind. Meditation will also help you focus on the present and enable you to let go of any pains and problems that they are holding unto.
A consistent exercise schedule is a good way to get better sleep at night as it reduces stress with the release of endorphins and tires you out. Studies show that an exercise regime as little as 10 minutes a day will dramatically improve the quality of your sleep. Regular exercise will also reduce the risk of developing sleep disorders including restless leg syndrome and sleep apnea.
Walking and jogging are great exercise choices, but if you’re looking for more dynamic workouts, cycling or martial arts may be suitable for you. For a practice that creates more relaxation, give yoga nidra a try!
Lead A Healthier Lifestyle
Like it or not, the food you consume plays an equally important role in the quality of sleep that you get at the end of each day. Eating acidic and spicy foods may cause heartburn, which will disrupt sleep. High-fat foods like burgers and fries also affect sleep cycles as they are considered heavy meals, which will result in the digestive system going into overdrive.
Try to minimize your intake of junk food as they are difficult to digest and can wreak havoc in your body, causing sleep disruptions. Instead, opt for healthier meals with more vegetables and good fats.
Set aside your weekend for relaxation with the family. Join a weekend meditation retreat to recharge and reset in time for the new week!