Are you an unwilling night-owl? Do you often find yourself tossing and turning in bed, counting sheep at 4 a.m.? Do you wake up feeling groggy, dazed, and unproductive? If you just answered "yes" to any of the above questions, you've come to the right place.
A good night's sleep is the key to a healthy lifestyle. Apart from helping you find inner peace, it can significantly improve your mood, physical health, and the overall quality of your waking life. Most people fail to realize the effects that regular sleep deprivation can have on the body. Sleep is what heals your body and restores brain chemicals that help your body function normally.
When your body doesn't get the rest it needs, it loses its ability to fight off illness, possibly increasing your risk of contracting heart disease and diabetes, according to the Mayo Clinic. But, in order to get more sleep, you have to make sleep a priority.
You may not have realized it yet, but the quality of your sleep depends on your activities during the day. So here's what you can do to clock more hours under the covers:
Follow a sleep schedule
Understanding and adjusting your body's circadian rhythm (the natural sleep-wake cycle) is the first step to better sleep. Start noticing what time your body naturally falls asleep and wakes up and stick to that schedule every day. This will keep your body clock in check and keep you feeling energetic.
If you're finding it hard to fall asleep, try adopting some relaxing bedtime rituals that can help you disengage from the world and get you ready for some shut-eye. Meditation, yoga, aromatherapy, and deep-breathing are all valuable tactics to coax your mind to call it a day.
Get 8 hours of sleep
The recommended amount of sleep for an average adult is seven to eight hours each night. Although this number may vary from person to person, depending on their sleeping needs.
Pay attention to the number of hours you're sleeping at night and how that, in turn, affects your mood during the day. You've had a good night's sleep if you're active through the majority of the day and ready for bed at the same time every night.
Skip the nap
A short daytime snooze may not seem like a big deal, but if you're already having trouble falling asleep at night, such brief naps may only make things worse! If you really need a short nap during the day, limit it to 15 minutes and make sure it's not close to bedtime.
A big meal before bedtime always results in disrupted sleep. Try eating a little early in the evening and then, grab a night-time snack an hour before you sleep, instead. Sleep-inducing foods like warm milk and bananas can also help you catch up on much-needed sleep. In fact, bananas are excellent sources of magnesium and potassium - minerals that help relax overstressed muscles.
Technology affects your sleep in more ways than you know. The blue light emitted by screens hampers the production of melatonin in your body, making it harder for you to fall and stay asleep. Melatonin is what's responsible for regulating our sleep-wake cycle and lowering glucose levels, blood pressure as well as body temperature.
Bright lights also fool your body into thinking it needs to stay up. Dim the lights and turn off all your devices an hour before bedtime to start showing your body signs that bedtime is approaching early.
The number one reason people stay up at night is stress. Stress elevates your cortisol levels which in turn affects your body's circadian rhythm. Cortisol also called the stress hormone, is what usually keeps us alert and active through the day. The production of this hormone drops at night, allowing our bodies to rest. When your stress levels increase, your body tends to keep producing this hormone through the night, resulting in restless nights and groggy mornings. You might not realise this but the intensity of light at night has significant bearing on your body's ability to power down. Absence of light, basically, triggers all processes associated with sleep and restoration. More light, on the other hand, signals to the brain that its time to wake up and to initiate processes like cortisol production and elevating body temperature.
If you happen to find yourself worrying in bed, get out of bed and do something relaxing before going back to bed. Sometimes the act of getting up will divert your thoughts. Meditation is another great way to lower those cortisol levels and find some inner peace. It helps train the body and mind to turn off the stress response and stimulate relaxation.
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