Researchers aren’t 100% sure why we need to sleep, but it’s clear that sleep is a necessity. During sleep the body repairs itself, replacing old cells. Sleep allows the brain to organize and archive new information and memories. A regular amount of sleep brings mental focus and consistency. Conversely, a lack of sleep leads to an inability to focus and pay attention or respond quickly to stimuli. Sleep deprivation has been linked to a wide range to health problems, from heart disease to depression, as well as an overall decrease in quality of life.
Factors Contributing to Poor Sleep
Here are just a few reasons you may not be sleeping well.
- Lack of sleep schedule
- High stimulant (i.e. caffeine) intake
- Lack of exercise
- Poor Diet (too much sugar, fat)
- Bedroom is too noisy, bright, or messy
- Distracted by gadgets
Benefits of Good Sleep
Besides not feeling like the walking dead, here are a few more benefits of consistently sleeping well
- Improved mental faculties (i.e. memory, creativity, attention span)
- Curbed inflammation (inflammation has been linked to heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis, among other maladies)
- Improved athletic performance
- Avoid depression
- Reduced stress
- May help prevent cancer
10 Tips for Improved Sleep
- Avoid caffeine, nicotine, and other stimulant that may interfere with your ability to fall asleep.
- Set up a sleep schedule and stick to it. Try to go to bed and wake up the same time every day. Staying up or sleeping in too late can throw off your body’s rhythm
- Increase your physical activity. Exercise regularly several hours before bedtime. Exercising sporadically or right before bed will make it harder to fall asleep.
- Manage your stress. Get organized, prioritize, and give yourself permission to take a break when you need one. Don’t overload yourself with too much to do or too much to think about.
- Build a soothing bedtime routine. Take a warm bath, read, listen to soothing music, or watch some TV. Be careful how much TV you watch, however. Some research shows that too much media use interferes with work.
- Make your sleep environment cool, quiet, comfortable, and dark. Use a fan or earplugs to squelch extraneous noise. Make sure you have a comfortable mattress and pillows. Turn off nightlights. If needed, black out windows or get a sleeping mask.
- Eat well about 2–3 hours before you go to bed. Avoid chocolate, spicy foods, and don’t overeat. Eating too much or eating the wrong foods can lead to nightmares.
- Don’t clock-watch. Watching your clock creates undue stress. Turn your clock face away from you. Put your clock in a drawer. Hide it in a sock or something.
- Use your bedroom for sleep. Don’t watch TV, balance your checkbook, or anything that mentally distract from the purpose your bedroom should truly serve: sleep.
No pets on the bed. Furry friend are great, but they can keep you awake at if they need to go out or move around too much. Keep a crate or a dog bed near your bed for your pup. The cat can sleep in the next room.