Sleep is important. Sleep is very important. First of all, it’s precious time for our brains to rest, taking a break from the hard work they do all day getting us through this crazy carnival we call life. Doctors know full well just how harmful a lack of sleep can be, both physically and mentally, as it can contribute to stress, anxiety, cognitive ability, high blood pressure, digestive problems, and much more. A healthy sleep regimen should therefore be a central part of everyone’s daily routine. But while it may seem like we’re powerless to improve our sleep patterns, there are actually ways we can help.
1. Maintain a regular sleep schedule
Sleep shouldn’t be an afterthought, it should be a core part of your daily routine. When it comes to sleep, our brains love a healthy routine. Try to use set times to go to sleep and wake up each day. You should especially avoid staying up past your bedtime if at all possible. Yes, “bedtime.” Sound like a word that normally gets applied just to kids? Well guess what, every parent can tell you that maintaining a healthy sleep schedule not only helps the cognitive development of children, but also makes them less grumpy. In this case, it’s just as important for adults who want to be healthy.
2. Try to be active during the day
Exercise helps a great deal. Indeed getting the heart pumping on a daily basis is incredibly beneficial in so many ways, but when it comes to sleep, you’ll notice effects in terms of relaxation, blood flow, and just plain wearing you out. There are other benefits you may not even have thought of, such as the fact that a healthy weight allows for easier respiration at night along with less snoring. So try to squeeze in a walk, a run, a workout, anything active.
3. Watch what you eat and drink
Caffeine is a stimulant, it’s the biggest reason why we consume it. A morning coffee, or a pick-me-up at that late-afternoon energy drop, are often helpful in getting us through the day. But you may not be aware that caffeine can stay in our bodies for ten hours or more, which means a cup of coffee consumed at 3pm could still be keeping us wired a 1am. So as difficult as it can be for some, try to reduce the amount of caffeine you take in, especially after lunchtime. In addition, try to avoid eating too much food too close to bedtime, while at the same time avoid going to bed hungry. Also don’t drink too much before hitting the hay, as that could result in many sleep-disturbing nighttime trips to the bathroom.
4. Try to get as much real sunlight as you can
Melatonin is one of many hormones produced by our bodies, but for good reason melatonin is often called the “sleep hormone.” To make sure your melatonin levels are where you want them to be, try to soak up as much natural sunlight as possible. Why? Because sunlight plays a major role in regulating our melatonin levels. Try to spend a good amount of time outdoors, and when indoors try to let in as much sunlight as you can. At the same time, be careful about screen time: staring at a computer, TV or even phone screen can trick your body into thinking it’s daytime. Instead, when sleep time approaches, shut it all down and read instead. Or just rest!
5. Make sure your sleep environment is restful and comfy
In order to drift off to sleep at night, you need to be soothed and relaxed. To make that happen, try to ensure your bedroom is as close as you can get it to completely silent. Darkness too is a help, and that includes little LEDs of chargers, adapters, and the myriad of devices we have in our lives. Use a mattress that matches your needs (maybe you’d be better off with bedding that’s softer, or maybe more firm). Keep your linens clean and your room tidy. Think about nice decorations too! The bottom line is this: you want your sleep environment to be welcoming, calming and peaceful.
6. Watch your stress levels
Stress can have serious effects on human health in so many ways, including blood pressure, digestion, headaches -- the list is long. For most people, however, the first thing to get hit is their sleep patterns. Stress from school or work can generate many a night of tossing and turning. Since you need to relax in order to sleep, stress can ruin your night. Tackling stress is a huge undertaking, one that a sizeable percentage of our fellow citizens need to focus on. There are many methods for dealing with stress, so if it’s keeping you up at night do some research and talk to your doctor. Reducing stress will help you sleep, and getting more sleep will reduce your stress.