We all know how great it feels to wake up refreshed after a good night’s sleep – and the feeling of drowsiness after a poor night’s sleep. Although we value sleep, our busy society makes it hard for many people to get the right amount of it. Sufficient sleep is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle and can affect the mind and body in many ways.
Why is sleep so important?
While you’re snoozing your body is actually working hard to maintain its balance by replacing cells, healing wounds, and building muscle tissue. Because of this, a quality night’s sleep can maximize athletic performance by improving speed, accuracy, and reaction times. Sleep also boosts your immune system making you less susceptible to illnesses such as the common cold. Your risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis is also reduced with quality sleep because it curbs inflammation.
Your brain is strengthened by sleep too – studies have proven that good sleep can improve concentration and productivity. Problem-solving skills are improved and memory performance is enhanced, keeping your brain sharp. Because the brain strengthens emotional components of a memory during sleep, it allows you to think more creatively. This emotional strength can also prevent anxiety and depression.
How to get more sleep
The recommended amount of sleep per night for adults is between 7 to 9 hours. Try following these tips to catch some more z’s at night:
Exercise regularly. Try to exercise at least 30 minutes a day. Because exercise speeds up your metabolism and increases body temperature, it could interfere with your sleep if you do it too close to bedtime. Try finishing moderate to intense workouts at least three hours before bedtime.
Watch your diet. Caffeine, alcohol, and sugary foods can disturb sleep, so limit your consumption of these, especially closer to bedtime. Avoid eating big meals and drinking excessive liquids before bed as well.
Stick to a regular sleep schedule. Help set your body's internal clock by going to bed at the same time and getting up at the same time every day. Also, limit the number of naps you take during the day. If you have to nap, take a 15 to 20 minute one in the early afternoon.
Fix your sleep environment. Keep your bedroom dark, quiet, and cool. Avoid using your cell phone in bed – the blue light emitted by screens suppresses the production of melatonin, the hormone that controls your sleep/wake cycle.
Practice relaxation techniques. Destress and unwind before bed by doing deep breathing exercises, muscle relaxation exercises, or visualizing a peaceful place.
A quality amount of sleep can have a significant effect on your mind and body – it doesn’t just keep you from yawning and feeling tired throughout the day. With a good night’s sleep, you can function and perform better at whatever it is you do.