Sleep is an essential element of self care. In fact, if you aren’t spending 1/3 of your life in a state of high-quality sleep, you’re doing it wrong. This article will address ways that you can increase your chances of getting a better night’s sleep.
The benefits of sleep are numerous. Ideally, the average adult should be getting 7–9 hours of quality sleep. 7-9 hours of quality sleep is associated with:
>Improved memory consolidation
>Fewer heart attacks (a 2010 study revealed that for adults that get less than 6 hours of sleep, it affects the C-reactive protein function, which is associated with heart attacks)
>Increased attention (for children who do not get 8 hours of sleep, there is an increase in maladaptive behaviors that mimic unmedicated ADHD)
>Healthy weight (sleep and metabolism are regulated in the same region of the brain)
>Lower cortisol (stress hormone)
The aforementioned is not exhaustive of the total benefits a quality night of sleep can improve, but it may be just the incentive you need to get to sleep. Below is a list of some pointers that may help improve the chances of you getting the required 7–9 hours sleep that an average adult needs to function at his/her highest potential:
· Don’t spend too much time in bed.
· Get up at the same time each day.
· Daily exercise can help deepen sleep. (Humans are diurnal; we are biologically designed to be active during the day and asleep at night).
· Make your bedroom comfortable and free of disturbing noise and light. (Eliminate any unfinished projects in your room; move the projects to a different room)
· Keep room temperature on the cooler side. Cool head; warm body.
· Eat regular meals and do not go to sleep hungry.
· Try to avoid drinking a lot of liquids after 8p.
· Avoid alcohol in the evening; it elicits adrenaline release in the wee hours.
· Try not to smoke when you are having trouble sleeping.
· Don’t take your problems to bed (journal them on paper; get them out of your head; you don’t have any problems to solve in bed except going to sleep)
· Reduce or eliminate caffeinated beverages in the evening, especially after 8p
· Only use the bedroom for sleep and sexual activity. Do not read, eat, or watch TV in bed.
· Don’t watch the clock; turn clocks away from you.
· Avoid daytime naps.
· Don’t “try” to fall asleep.
· Eliminate exposure to backlit devices (TV, Tablets, Mobile Phones, Laptops) 45 minutes before you intend on being asleep. (The blue light frequencies turn on the part of your brain that responds to daylight).
Author, Lisa Schiro, M.S., LPC