Do you know the one thing we could all use more of, no exceptions? When we look at our lives, most of us are chasing more money, a better partner, or that elusive pair of perfect stilettos. While it may or may not be strictly true that we need those things, we are failing to see the one thing that suffers in the process: sleep. Whether you’re sleeping too little, or struggling with poor sleep quality, you are probably feeling the consequences. So, if you’re not too tired, join us on our quest for a good night’s rest.
At a certain point in our lives, most of us train our bodies to accept insufficient rest as the rule rather than the exception.
The magic number
A shockingly low number of people can honestly say that they are consistently getting enough sleep. At a certain point in our lives, most of us train our bodies to accept insufficient rest as the rule rather than the exception. Eventually, exhaustion starts to feel like a second skin. The problem has become so pervasive that the CDC has recognized insufficient sleep as a public health problem. So, how much sleep is enough? Today, science acknowledges that not everybody is the same. Generally, an adult should optimally have anywhere from 7 to 9 hours per night. Some people will feel completely refreshed after seven hours. Others will still have to rely heavily on caffeine unless they have the full nine hours.
What happens behind closed eyes
In an effort to squeeze more from the 24-hour day, we often steal precious time from sleep for something else. Of course, after a while, we convince ourselves we are fine. You’ll hear way too many people saying things like “I’m a night owl,” or “It’s fine, I don’t need that much sleep”. This couldn’t be further from the truth. While we sleep, our muscles relax and mend themselves. Our heart rate and blood pressure drop, giving our cardiovascular system a well-deserved rest. Our brain, on the other hand, continues to work. It archives our memories and impressions, regulates hormones, kickstarts rejuvenation processes all over the body, and forms new synapses. All important work!
Tip no. 1: Routine is key
How many times have you found yourself barely able to wake up in the morning, and hitting the snooze button? You vow to go to bed early, but once it’s time to hit the hay, there’s always something else to do. Establishing a routine is the key to healthy sleep. You should always go to bed and wake up at the same time, even at weekends. If you’re having trouble being disciplined, set up reminders. Think of it as a to-do task, just like any other. If, for instance, you’re planning on going to bed at 10.30, you should avoid screens at least an hour before that. Instead, have some warm milk or a cup of herbal tea. A warm shower or bath can also help you unwind.
Tip no. 2: Kill the lights
We don’t just mean that you should turn off your bedside lamp. There are plenty of light sources around us that we don’t even notice. From our phones, digital clocks, blinking control lights on a myriad devices around us… And, of course, the light streaming in from the outside. We think we sleep in darkness, while, actually, we are surrounded by light. The problem is, all these tiny, almost unnoticeable lights can seriously affect our health. How is that even possible, we hear you say. It might sound ludicrous, but even these faint light sources tamper with our melatonin production. That means our body continues to produce higher amounts of cortisol, and fails to lower our blood pressure, body temperature and glucose levels. Over lengthy periods of time, this could lead to inflammations, insulin resistance, obesity and even increase the risk of cancer.
The solution? Close the blinds and keep your room pitch black. It might feel weird at first, but your body will thank you.
Tip no. 3: Know your sleep thieves
Do you ever feel dog tired, but once you go to bed, you just toss and turn for hours? You should probably blame hidden sleep thieves. Caffeine is the most notorious and common sleep stealer. We are all aware we should avoid caffeine at least a few hours before bed. However, caffeine can often be hidden in unexpected products, and we consume it without even knowing. Other common sleep thieves include alcohol, inadequate room temperature, and health problems like sleep apnea or anxiety. Exercising, while generally great for healthy sleep, should be out of the way well before nightfall.
Tip no. 4: A screen-free zone
Most of us unwind by watching TV or checking social media. Unfortunately, those pesky screens inhibit your melatonin production even if you use them before going to bed. That’s because they emit a particular kind of blue light that is especially detrimental to our melatonin production. You should avoid screens before bed time. And using them in bed, with the lights out, is a huge no-no.
It seems like the rule of no screen time before bed is not just for the kids!
Tip no. 5: Your bedroom is your sanctuary
Make it a point to keep your bedroom a stress-free zone. It should be a place where you feel relaxed and at peace. Don’t work in bed, check your emails, or even watch TV. All of these things should be done elsewhere. Your bedroom should be a place where you meditate, have sex, and sleep. No compromises.
Healthy sleep is one of the most vital pieces of the puzzle when it comes to our physical and mental wellbeing. A good, restful night will help your skin recover its glow. It will keep anxiety and depression at bay. It will give you energy and boost your productivity. We wouldn’t be exaggerating if we told you that following these five simple steps could transform your life. Why not try them and see for yourself? Worst case scenario? You’ll get rid of those dark circles under your eyes without expensive eye creams.
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