Most people are aware that they need eight hours of sleep every night but they do not really know the importance of sleep for their health. It is my hope that after reading this you will have a much better understanding.
The benefits of sleep to your mental and physical health are numerous. When I was much younger I used to work a lot of overtime and brag about my sleep deprivation habits, I used to say things like, sleep is for sissies. Little did I know then that it really was not good for my health at all.
There are many ways to improve your sleep and I will point some of those out so that you can take care of your health and decrease any adverse effects of those poor sleep habits like I used to have.
How Sleep Affects Your Healh
Sleep affects our mental health as well as our physical health. We can either be alert, motivated, and active or sluggish, uninterested, and not able to focus.
It is estimated that about one in every three Americans suffer from insomnia. Many of them have to take a sleeping pill to quiet their racing mind and be able to fall asleep. However, there are several bad side effects such as, your body will develop a tolerance to them and they are addictive. I will tell you about better and healthier ways to be able to fall asleep and rest well.
Sleeping well naturally will help you be able to solve problems easily and help you with your memory. When you are feeling down or depressed at all sometimes all it takes is a good night of restful sleep to put you in a better mood.
While getting enough sleep is important to our mental health it is even more important to our physical body. During sleep our brain is still very active removing waste toxins and re energizing cells while our body is resting. Our heart rate and blood pressure are lower as well as the immune system is being activated and energized. Healthy sleep habits can actually lower our risk for serious health problems like heart disease and diabetes.
Benefits of Sleep
The quality and quantity of sleep we are getting can either enhance or take a toll on our overall health. I am going to point out several benefits of getting a good quality of eight hours sleep every night.
- Lower stress and improve your mood
- Improve your memory and make better decisions
- Focus and think clear – ability to concentrate
- Stay safe and alert – avoid accidents
- Be more creative as, your brain has reorganized your memories with deep sleep
- Better relationships with people – not irritable
- Manage your weight easier at a healthy level
- Good sleep habits can actually make you sick less often from common colds, etc.
- Lower inflammation in the body which is the precursor for many serious diseases
- Longevity – Sleep is one of the three pillars of good health.
Research has shown that a completely healthy lifestyle must include adequate sleep each night. Our body and mind cannot function at top-notch when we are at a sleep deficit and it can quickly add up without us even realizing it.
The two most common reasons for not getting a good nights sleep are insomnia and sleep apnea. There is also an old myth saying that, “if you snooze you lose,” which some people used to justify their voluntary reason for avoiding enough good quality sleep. Quantity is also important as we need both types of sleep which are SWS (slow wave sleep) and REM (rapid eye movement sleep).
Insomnia can be corrected naturally if people are willing to change their habits. It is said that it takes twenty-one days for people to change a habit. This is much better than going the route of addiction to sleeping pills.
You must set up a strict schedule and adhere to it. Simple things like shower at 8:45 PM, in bed by 9:00 to 9:15, read or meditate for 15 to 30 minutes, lights out at 9:30 to 9:45, Alarm set for 5:30 to 5:45. This is easy for me because I am an early riser but just adjust so that you are sleeping close to eight hours every night.
Sleep apnea is a much more serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts. The loud snoring accompanying this is certainly not a joke to someone with sleep apnea. This is a potentially serious disorder and anyone who suspects they have it should see a Doctor or health care professional. Besides C-Pap machines they may have certain exercises or things to try to give you helpful advice.
How To Improve Your Sleep
The best way to improve your sleep is to first realize and understand how important it is to your overall health and the role it plays in your complete health regimen. You must make it a priority.
Many busy people tend to push sleep out of their schedule at their own peril. Sacrificing sleep ends up being mostly counter-productive as you are prone to more mistakes and omissions when you are tired. Be at your best with enough rest!
- Routine is important. Go to bed ad wake up at the same time every day. Give yourself some down time starting about an hour or so before retiring for the evening.
- Avoid caffeine or strenuous exercise in the evening. Also, try not to eat a large meal and avoid alcohol close to bed time.
- A long bath or shower is a great relaxation practice right before bed.
- A calming cup of chamomile tea and hour or so before bed.
- Keep your room dark and about 3 t0 5 degrees cooler as, your body temperature decreases as you sleep and you are naturally programmed to sleep in total darkness.
- You should have no distractions in your bedroom. You are there to get restorative and rejuvenating sleep.
- Prayer and meditation is by far the best method I have used before bed or laying in bed right before falling asleep. This is my absolute the best recommendation for calming a racing mind allowing us to reach the deep restorative sleep needed each night.
A good nights sleep every night is just as important as exercise and eating healthy meals. Sleep effects your brain function like cognition, memory, and concentration. It also helps stimulate our immune system.
These are not just my opinions, there is research and numerous studies that prove this is true. We really cannot afford to minimize sleep as one of the big three pillars of good health.
Please feel free to leave your questions and comments below. Thank you.