Apr 122012

We all know that a good sleep makes us feel great, alert, and is part of a balanced lifestyle. But most of us only know this as a piece of knowledge we read in a book, bad sleep patterns are one of the most common bad habits. Whether you like to stay up to surf reddit, imagine fixing the worlds problems at 3 am or you just have too many things to do in one day…the majority of us don’t get enough good quality sleep! Other than just feeling better, sleep actually plays a major role in some important areas of our lives.

What effect does sleep deprivation have?

According to THIS STUDY from Harvard, chronic loss of sleep (less than 6 hours per night) contributes to weight gain, high blood pressure and a lessened immune power. Your immune system is one of your most prized possessions when it comes to health. Low immunity means you are susceptible to every disease you can think of.

How much sleep do I need?

Well new moms will prove to you that you don’t really need more than a few hours a night. But we want to thrive, not barely survive. To get a good nights rest most adults need between 6.5 – 7.5 hours per night. If you are getting less than this, you may be putting yourself at risk.

I love to sleep, can I ever get too much?

There is some evidence that suggests sleeping for too long (over 8-9 hours) can cause health issues as well. Although this research isn’t as developed as the other end of the spectrum. If you are still sleepy after 8 or 9 hours of sleep, it could also be indicative of another health problem, like a vitamin or mineral deficiency for example.

Why is sleep so important?

Many research teams dedicate all their time and energy to figure this one out. There are still a few different theories, but the one with the most evidence is the regeneration theory. Essentially sleeping is our body’s time to rejuvenate itself. Our major restorative functions, like muscle growth, tissue repair, protein synthesis and even growth hormone release happen mostly or in some cases entirely when we are asleep. When we are deprived of sleep, these important body functions don’t happen as efficiently (or at all). In fact, animals who are deprived of sleep for long enough will die.

I want to sleep but I just can’t seem to get a good night’s rest!

For many of us, the modern world has trained us to be stressed out and on edge, and very very busy.  This can lead to later bedtimes, and a tough time getting to sleep once we are in bed. Not only that, you might wake up in the middle of the night, worrying about the events to come, and then once you are awake you worry that you aren’t getting enough sleep! Here are a few tips to getting a better night’s sleep.

  • Set yourself a bedtime (before midnight if possible). We get the best sleep if we are in bed by midnight. If you go to bed consistently at the same time, you’ll have an easier time falling asleep, and an easier time getting up consistently as well. Try to keep your weekdays and weekends roughly the same.
  • Have a night routine. Most of us had one as kids, and there was a reason for it! As you go through your routine of washing your face, brushing your teeth etc, you are subconsciously telling your body that it’s time to go to sleep.
  • No electronics at bedtime. No cell phone, computer, TV at least ½ hour before you go to bed. Read a book, meditate, do some relaxing yoga stretches or talk to your partner to get you out of electronic mode before you try to drift off.
  • Open a window. The cool airflow makes for a relaxing environment.
  • Never work in your bedroom.For some of us this isn’t an option, if you still live with your parents and have no other place to study. But in general, you don’t want to do anything stressful in your bedroom.
  • Don’t eat late at night. A heavy stomach can cause you to lay awake, or wake up in the middle of the night. Eating close to bedtime is also notorious for causing bad dreams.
  • Don’t stress out if you can’t fall asleep. You are probably keeping yourself awake by being stressed. If you miss one night of good sleep it’s not going to be the end of the world. I find that I feel the effects of a short sleep two days afterwards. So if you do miss a few hours one night, just make sure you go to bed early the next night.
  • Steer clear of caffeine after noon. Steer clear of it in general, but if you are a coffee drinker, quit after the morning. Caffeine does a number on your body. I’m not a coffee drinker, and if I drink it after 2PM I actually have a really hard time getting to sleep before 3AM.

We’ve all had trouble falling asleep or staying asleep before. What is your favorite trick for to getting a good nights sleep?

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  One Response to “Snooze Master: Is Sleep Healthy?”

Comments (1)
  1. I know I am bad for electronics in the bed! I’m always watching TV, or checking email at bedtime…it’s just so comfy!!!