A stressful and busy life, a monkey mind, a snoring husband or wife; they all lead to the same result - lack of sleep. Often we prefer to stay up later to meet up with friends or do some more work. We justify cutting the sleeping hours by saying “I can sleep when my life is over”.
Sleep is similar to nutrition. You might not notice the impact on your body immediately- especially when you are young - but the fact is that lack of sleep leads to difficulties in concentrating and less resistance to stress. Studies also show that when you sleep too little, you end up with an imbalance of the hormones leptin and ghrelin, which makes you feel hungrier. So apart from not giving your body enough rest to regenerate, you are likely to be less successful at work or school, you will tend to overeat and face more challenges with weight control, and you will release more stress hormones and are more likely to be cranky and unpleasant!
What is the right amount of sleep?
According to research, the average body needs 7.5 hours of rest per night – some more, some less. You can experiment by changing your bedtime and waking time and recording how you feel upon rising. Was it easy or difficult to wake up? Do you feel rested? You know you’ve hit the jackpot when you wake up refreshed and energetic.
But how can one get enough sleep?
It is certainly easier than it sounds when you lead a busy life, but it is not impossible. Here are some tips to help you along.
1. Make it one of your priorities to sleep at least 7.5 hours and plan your day in order to fit this in. Adjust the sleeping hours depending on what you need to feel refreshed.
2. Have the same sleeping schedule, even on the weekends. Don’t change your schedule, plus or minus one hour.
3. Create a bedtime routine - calm your thoughts by taking a relaxing bath, reading a book or meditating. A routine will also act as a signal to your body that it is time to go to bed soon and wind down.
4. Shut down all electronic devices at least 30 minutes before you want to sleep. The blue light emitted by these devices actually stimulates the brain and delays the release of the sleep hormone melatonin.
5. Avoid liquids with caffeine 8 hours before you go to sleep. Your body needs this time to eliminate the caffeine from your system.
6. Vigorous exercise is not recommended shortly before you go to bed as exercise activates your body instead of calming it down. Give yourself at least 4 hours between your workout and bedtime.
7. Your digestive system slows down as the day progresses as your body is programmed to rest in the evening and at night. If you eat late at night or shortly before going to bed, your body releases stress hormones that are counterproductive when you want to rest and sleep. Therefore, have your last meal minimum 3-4 hours before you go to sleep and keep it light.
8. Make sure your room is quiet, dark, cool and comfortable.
Try these tips and see what works best for you. Happy zzz-ing!