Do you get 7-9 hours of sleep every night? Most likely the answer is no. Some of us may even wear being able to function on only a few hours of sleep as a badge of honor, but the truth is that we aren’t performing to the best of our ability mentally or physically. If you feel fine with 4-6 hours of sleep, you have forgotten the feeling and it’s been too long since you’ve been truly rested.
6 REASONS WE NEED MORE SLEEP:
- Improved weight control. Getting enough sleep could help you to maintain your weight. Conversely, lack of sleep increases risk of obesity. Sleep deprivation can cause the body to produce less leptin, a hormone that reduces appetite. Lack of sleep can also cause the body to produce more ghrelin, a hunger-stimulating hormone. A Harvard Medical School study found that women who sleep only five hours a night are 32 percent more likely to gain 30 pounds or more as they get older. Sleep sounding better yet?
- Better mood. Getting enough sleep won't guarantee a sunny disposition. But, if you are exhausted, you're more likely to be cranky. That's not all. Long-term sleep deprivation can cause depression, and that causes insomnia. Inversely, healthy sleep habits can make you feel happier.
- Increase job performance. Sleep has been shown to boost job performance. Just one nap of up to 90 minutes between the hours of 1:00 and 4:00 p.m. will reduce your sleep debt, stimulate your brain function and boost overall job performance.
- Stronger immunity. Sleep protects you from illnesses such as heart disease and diabetes. Insufficient sleep can undermine immune function and cardiovascular health. Moreover, people who sleep less than the recommended seven hours per night are three times as likely to get sick.
- Clearer thinking. Not only does sleep deprivation lead to poor health, it also impairs cognitive, attention, and decision-making skills leaving you vulnerable to accidents (think auto accidents, inability to solve problems at work, poor food choices, etc.). Newer studies are even linking lack of sleep to Alzheimer's and dementia!
- You'll look better. While we sleep we produce most of our growth hormone. In fact, this production is most closely linked to deep sleep (the reason why we would like to get a majority of our sleep in a single session). In children, this is intimately linked with their growth. In adults, it is very important in tissue repair (think about those gains!).
You now know the importance of getting more sleep. Here are seven tried and true trips to make sure you get the sleep you deserve.
7 WAYS TO GET MORE/BETTER SLEEP:
- Avoid caffeine 10 hours before bedtime. This is the amount of time required for your body to clear it from the bloodstream and eliminate its stimulatory effects.
- Create/Stick to your sleep routine. Go to bed and wake up at the same time everyday. Yes, even on the weekends. Being consistent reinforces your body's sleep-wake cycle.
- Keep your bedroom cool and dark. Most experts agree that the sweet spot for temperature is between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit. Also, the darker the room the better. Utilize shades, curtains, or blinds to block outside light and remove electronics from inside the bedroom.
- Avoid big meals and alcohol 3 hours before bedtime. This will help you avoid heartburn (gastric reflux) and interrupted sleep. Alcohol might make you feel sleepy, but it impairs your natural sleep cycle and interrupts valuable deep sleep.
- Invest in your bedroom. Since you should be spending at least a third of your day here, you should make it the most comfortable room in your house! Blackout curtains, a great mattress, nice sheets, white noise machines, fantastic candles, etc.
- No more screen time an hour before bed. Turn off the TV and put away tablets and phones. Here’s a few things that you can do instead:
- Read a book.
- Tidy up your house.
- Shower and work on mobility/stretching.
- Lay out clothes and prep your lunch/gym bag/work bag for tomorrow.
- Enjoy “other” bedroom activities (you know what I mean).
- Get your sweat on and get outside. Regular exercise as well as getting enough natural light during the day will also keep your body clock on a healthy sleep-wake cycle.
In summary, sleep is vital to keep you healthy, increase mood, enhance your appearance and have you performing on an optimal level. Sleep doesn’t just happen for the majority of us, but if you set the tone and intentionally aim to get 7-9 hours in, you will reap major benefits.