Sleeping, snoozing, getting some shut-eye; there are lots of names for what we do when we go to bed and close our eyes. It’s widely known that the average person should get about eight hours a sleep a night. However beyond just feeling rested, sleep is a key part of a healthy lifestyle.
Your brain never sleeps, even when you do. This is one of the reasons sleep is so important. While you’re asleep, your brain works to strengthen memories and go over skills you learned while you were awake. This is called consolidation.
While your brain is making sure all the information your absorbed over the course of your day is properly filed, your body is at rest. This can lead to a reduction in inflammation, which is linked to conditions like heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis and premature aging. Studies have shown that people who get less than six hours of sleep a night have increased levels of inflammatory proteins in their blood than people who get more than six hours of sleep.
Getting enough sleep can also prevent injuries, particularly in teens. According to a study of 112 high school athletes by Matthew D. Milewski, MD, young athletes who get less than eight hours of sleep a night (on average) were 1.7 times more likely to incur injuries than their peers who got eight or more hours of sleep a night.
This is all well and good but for many people, sleep does not come easily. Whether it’s stress, insomnia, noise, etc. many people have a difficult time getting enough sleep. For those who just can’t seem to get enough shuteye, here are some tips:
Don’t eat 2-3 hours before bed and skip that afternoon coffee
Spicy and/or big meals before bed can cause digestive issues that keep you up. Having coffee can affect your sleep even if you drink it six hours before your go to bed. If you’re really dragging after lunch and need a bit of caffeine, consider half the amount of your morning coffee.
Get into sleep mode by relaxing
Start to wind down an hour or so before hitting the hay. Read a book, watch a movie, take a hot shower, whatever helps you low down and unwind.
Move distractions like laptops and/or TVs out of the bedroom
Working from bed might seem like the most efficient way to get work done until bedtime, but it can affect your sleep. For some people, the light from the screen of their laptop / tablet / phone can activate their brain, making it hard to fall asleep. If you can’t sleep in silence, try purchasing a white noise machine instead of falling asleep with the TV on. Try to keep your bed primarily for sleeping; it will help your brain associate going to bed with going to sleep.
Sleep is important to function but remember, even though around eight hours is the standard, some people need a little more or can deal with a little less. In order to get the benefits of sleep, figure out the amount of sleep that’s right for you to feel rested and alert.