We all need it, and few of us get enough of it. Sleep is vital for good health, as it impacts our ability to form memories, repair cell and muscle damage, and generally recharge and relax. Yet almost half of us feel that we’re not getting enough rest. Worse, many people shrug off not getting enough zzz’s as a side effect of living in the busy modern world - and do nothing to address their sleep needs.
The reality is that continually not getting the recommended amount of sleep you may be posing some serious risks to your health - including chronic headaches and an increased risk of obesity, depression and even heart disease. And of course, feeling tired is likely to increase the risk of you getting hurt while on the road or just generally out and about.
With these risks in mind, it’s important to take measures to help ensure you’re not only sleeping for the recommended amount of time (7 to 9 hours a night), but also that you’re getting the most relaxed night of sleep that you can. Here’s five simple steps you can take in order to always get a great night’s sleep and reduce the health risks that are attributed to sleep deprivation.
- Make a schedule. Consistency is key when it comes to sleep, so as we ease into a new season, begin going to bed and waking up at the same time every day. This means on the weekends too! When you pick your bedtime, make sure it’s no less than 7 hours from the time you have to wake up. The consistency of going to sleep and waking up at the same time will set your body’s internal clock so that even waking up won’t be a struggle. Eventually, you may not even need to use an alarm clock!
- Watch your stress levels. Stress is a natural part of life. But unless we address it in a healthy manner, it can build up throughout our day and interfere with our ability to relax and rest at night. Instead of trying to shut off the stress all at once right before you go to bed, try to find ways to manage it throughout the day. For example, when you start feeling overwhelmed, try taking a few calming breaths; you may even want to consider meditation in the early evening to unwind.
- Nap with caution. As tempting as it can be, a long nap during the day could seriously affect how you’ll sleep that upcoming night. If you do feel the need for a nap, try to limit the length of it to 10 to 30 minutes, and don’t settle in for one any later than mid-afternoon.
- Watch what you drink - and eat. It’s pretty common knowledge that a cup of coffee right before bed might make sleeping difficult. But even caffeine in the early afternoon and evening could affect your sleep. You’ll also want to be careful to avoid certain foods later in the evening. And never go to bed hungry or overstuffed, as this could also disrupt your sleep.
- Get moving.Daily exercise will go a long way in contributing to a good night’s rest. Physical activity is part of a balanced lifestyle, and helps to use more energy during the day - encouraging deeper bouts of sleep later. However, it’s best to avoid exercising later in the evening, and especially to avoid doing so at night. Endorphins in your body are produced immediately after you exercise, and this may make you too energized to go to sleep.
These little adjustments can go a long way in helping you to get a good night’s rest - and to live a healthier life overall. Of course, sometimes sleep is disrupted by medical problems that cannot be addressed just with lifestyle changes. If you think this is what is ruining your rest, give us a call at Genesis Medical to see what can be done. Remember, it’s normal to have the occasional sleepless night, but if your lack of sleep is constant, there may be something else going on. You want to be sure you get the best sleep possible so you can continue enjoying a happy and healthy life!