For most people, getting the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep may seem impossible. People today are experiencing lower sleep quality and quantity than ever before.
Sleep plays a vital role in every aspect of well-being. The simple truth is that we are all the best version of ourselves on a good night’s sleep.
Why sleep is so important
Rest is one of the most critical aspects of both your emotional and physical health. Your body uses sleep to recover; it heals damaged cells and even strengthens your immune system while you sleep.
During sleep, your body is working hard to maintain a healthy brain. Your brain forms new pathways as you sleep to aid in learning and memory formation. Sleep deficiency affects you so much that not getting enough sleep will cause you to be indecisive, lack emotional control, and feel more depressed.
Sleep also plays a vital role in the maintenance of a healthy cardiovascular system. While you sleep, your body heals and repairs your heart and blood vessels. Ongoing sleep deprivation may cause an increased risk of stroke and heart disease.
Further, sleep even helps to maintain a healthy hormonal balance. Sleep affects how your body reacts to insulin, along with with how much ghrelin and leptin (your hunger and fullness hormones) your body produces. Consequently, being sleep deficient results in an increased risk for diabetes and obesity.
How much sleep is enough?
The ideal range for adults is 7-9 hours of sleep per night. How much sleep your unique body needs is exceptionally individual. Some people can function well with 6 hours, while some need more than 9 hours of sleep each night to feel well-rested.
Is napping helpful?
Many adults find themselves combatting drowsiness with a daytime nap. Although naps can improve short term alertness, they do not provide the many benefits of nighttime sleep. Sadly there is no way to make up for lost sleep.
If you do decide to nap, be sure to set the alarm for 25-30 minutes. Any longer will land you in the deep sleep portion of your sleep cycle, causing you to feel even more tired than before.
How to sleep better every night
Now that you know just how vital and overlooked sleep is, you may be wondering how you can get a night of better sleep. Here are a few proven tips for improving your sleep quality and quantity:
• Control light exposure
Keeping your natural circadian rhythm healthy requires getting in sync with natural light timings. You can better prepare your body for sleep when you increase your exposure to sunlight throughout the day and limit your exposure to artificial lights at night.
Exposing yourself to artificial lights (especially blue light from screens) at night will confuse your body into thinking it is still daytime. In turn, your body will fail to produce melatonin, a hormone released by the pineal gland that functions as a sleep aid.
• Reduce caffeine intake
Since caffeine is a stimulant, it may seem obvious to avoid caffeine right before bed. But caffeine stays in your bloodstream for 6-8 hours! Drinking coffee or soda in the afternoon or evening may prevent your body from relaxing as you try to fall asleep.
• Try to sleep at regular times
Irregular sleeping patterns will negatively affect your body’s long-term sleep quantity and quality. Consistency is critical when it comes to the time you go to bed, and the time you wake up.
The habit of having a regular bedtime makes it easier to both fall asleep and wake up in the morning. The catch is that you must keep your sleep times consistent - even on weekends!
• Sleep at a certain temperature
Surprisingly, the bedroom temperature is one of the most significant factors that affect sleep quality. A cooler temperature of around 20°C (70°F) is the optimal temperature for sleep. You may experience this first hand when you find yourself tossing and turning on a hot summer night.
• Avoid eating late in the evening
Consuming a large meal or snack close to bedtime often leads to sleep disruption and indigestion. However, if you are hungry at night, a healthful snack will help rather than hinder your sleep.
Aim for a light snack that includes a combination of carbohydrates, healthy fat, and protein if possible. Foods like bananas, berries, Greek yogurt, and almonds are great options.
Additionally, incorporating healthy lifestyle habits like eating nutrient-dense foods and finding fun ways to do physical activity throughout the day will play a significant role in sleep quality.
If you are still struggling to get a good night’s rest after putting all of these tips into practice, keep experimenting to find what works best for you. Like many other aspects of well-being, there is no standard guideline for sleep that will fit every single person.
Currently, more and more cannabis products are entering the market as sleep aids. If changing your lifestyle habits isn’t enough to get you snoring, maybe a cannabis or melatonin supplement could get you on track.
Just remember that when it comes to your sleep, you get to be selfish! Getting a good night sleep should be a top priority for everyone looking to further their health and well-being.