One of the best things you can do for your body is get plenty of good sleep.
What is enough, and why is it important? Adults typically need 7 to 8 hours per sleep per night for optimum health (teens need 9). The effects of not getting enough sleep are obvious in most cases as it relates to performance and mood. If we don’t get enough sleep we feel sluggish, and are less able to focus and think clearly so all aspects of life performance are going to be hindered. Mood is a no-brainer…don’t get enough sleep and you tend to be cranky and irritable…those are easy. The more subtle part of not sleeping enough is the overall impact on health, because like every other neglect in our lives, the negative effects build up over time.
At night while we are sleeping, the processes in our body are hardly at rest. This is when the body can really focus on doing the work that sustains us when we are awake. Deep sleep is when our body’s growth hormones go to work to build our muscle, repair our cells and tissues, fight disease and replenish our energy stores. If we aren’t sleeping enough then there is a major imbalance between the tearing down of the body and the building up of the body. It is proven that lack of sleep is a contributor to many health maladies including obesity.
Here are a few tips to help you get the sleep you need:
Exercise- exercise leads to a more fit healthy body in general, including the ability to sleep better. However, do not exercise within 3-5 hours of going to be if you can avoid it. The ramping effect on your metabolism could impact your ability to fall asleep.
Caffeine- avoid caffeine in the afternoon and evening.
Unwind before bed- avoid anything that stimulates your mind too much before bed. Television, the computer, and work, are things that get your mind churning. This opposite of what you want to do before bed. Meditate, pray, read (nothing too exciting), breathe (deep relaxing breaths), and whatever else is relaxing for you is a good thing to do prior to bed.
Alcohol- avoid alcohol before bed. Alcohol causes you to sleep lightly. When you sleep lightly, your body does not release the hormones.
Environment- the best sleeping environment is quiet, dark, and cool.
Biological clock- if possible try to go to sleep at roughly the same time every night. This will condition your body that this is the time that you sleep.
Don’t try to hard- if you haven’t fallen asleep within 20 minutes, don’t let the anxiety of not sleeping set in. Get up for a little bit and do something relaxing and then go back to be.
Aids- if you find you struggle with insomnia and yet you are doing all the right stuff, try something with natural melatonin in it as opposed to drugs (my preference is Fusions Red from Life Plus).