You know you should eat right and exercise, but do you really understand just how important sleep is to your health? Getting enough sleep is one of the most important things you can do for your health. Getting enough quality sleep at the right times can help protect your mental health, physical health, quality of life, and safety. It can even help you lose weight! On the flipside, not getting enough sleep can cause you to gain weight, feel depressed and lead to such diseases as diabetes and heart disease. So… are you getting enough sleep?
How much sleep each person needs can vary anywhere from 6-10 hours, but the majority of people need 8 hours of sleep to function properly. However, this number has been increasingly harder for people to meet in an era of “let’s do 10 things at once” and Starbucks. What kind of damage might this be doing? When you are sleep deprived, your cortisol level rises – and so do all its harmful effects. Left to spiral out of control, this can cause serious health issues including brain damage and dementia, weight gain, diabetes, heart attacks, high blood pressure, depression, osteoporosis, compromised immunity, and more.
So how can you better your sleep patterns? There are several things you can do that will help. For starters, use your bed only for sleep or romance, don’t read there or watch television. Go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every day to create a sleep routine. Avoid caffeine and alcohol too close to bedtime. Also, take care to sleep in total darkness and quiet – this creates a serene and calm atmosphere, that is essential for sleep. Sleeping when your body is ready to sleep also is very important, so don’t try to force yourself to stay awake if you’re tired. Avoid eating within a couple hours of bedtime. Use the hour before bed for quiet time. Avoid strenuous exercise and bright artificial light, such as from a TV or computer screen. The light may signal the brain that it’s time to be awake. Lastly, if you’re still having trouble sleeping take a hot bath or use relaxation techniques before bed. All of these tips can help you sleep better and have you on the path to better health in no time!
Our Favorite Relaxation Techniques
Lavender Essential Oil – put 3 or 4 drops of lavender oil on your temples and/or behind your ears. A few drops on your pillow or in a diffuser can be just as effective, if you don’t want to put it directly on your skin. Add a few drops of lavender oil in a hot bath and soak just before bedtime.Other supplements and herbs can be helpful in getting some shuteye – try calcium, magnesium, herbal tea, melatonin, and magnolia.