Sleep is as important as eating, breathing, and detoxing. Scientists have revealed the relationship between sleep and overall health in various studies. Still, changes in our environment can lead to stressors we may not be aware of. We might know how much sleep we are getting, but it’s possible to feel tired and unmotivated even after a long night.
Nowadays, the most common jobs require some form of knowledge work, and our mental agility is tested. Fatigue from physical labor can decrease over time the more we prepare and train our bodies for it, but the way our brain works is more complex. For example, elderly people tend to wake earlier and find it difficult to fall back to sleep, affecting the rest of their day. Despite getting the prescribed 6-8 hours of sleep, some people still feel exhausted after waking. Therefore, we should stop thinking about adequate sleep and talk about sleep quality.
The Sleep Foundation calls “sleep hygiene” the catchall term for behaviors that influence sleep quality and duration. If sleeping is like eating, we must also have sleep routines in the same way we prepare, cook food, and induce good digestion whenever we eat.
Here are some ways we can start sleeping better.
Winding down during the last before sleeping is an excellent habit to start. This includes removing mobile phones in the bedroom and limiting blue light exposure by dimming screens. Swapping the phone with a book or journaling before bed can also be good alternatives.
Caffeine, the drug found in coffee and soda, has several physiological effects. It stimulates the nervous system and stays in the blood for 6 to 8 hours, which means it’s not a good companion for sleep. One tip from experts is to avoid colored drinks after 3PM and stick to water – our bodies will thank us for the following day.
If the urge to drink coffee or tea in the late afternoon is strong and we just want to stay awake, taking a nap is just as good a suggestion. However, power naps are even better because they’re shorter and provide the restorative benefits of sleep. How quick is short? Experts agree between 20-30 minutes.
Getting good quality sleep relies on the ability of our body to produce the right hormones to keep our systems functioning. When we interrupt the body’s rhythm with late-night snacks and excessive alcohol consumption, we lose the benefits of sleep even if we get a total of 8 hours. Making sure we develop good sleep habits will be better for our overall health in the long run.
Since sleep has become a critical part of our daily lives, tools and technology have caught up to ensure that we sleep to our heart’s content. Investing in an ergonomic pillow, a comfortable mattress, and a sleep monitor can do wonders for our health. In some parts of the world where natural sunlight exposure is limited, artificial bright light devices can help to regulate sleeping patterns.
A recent Gallup study found that better sleepers are more likely to engage in their communities because they remain active and productive. If personal health isn’t motivating enough, perhaps knowing that our sleeping habits have an indirect impact on our neighbors can change our minds.