There are few feelings as universally satisfying as waking up from a restful sleep. Adequate sleep improves our mood, rejuvenates our cells, and positions us to recognize and receive positive experiences. Of course, lack of sleep causes the opposite effects. In fact, getting too little sleep can put us at greater risk for serious illnesses like high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease, among others. With that in mind, getting a good night’s sleep isn’t just about personal satisfaction, it’s a matter of nurturing your health.
There are varied opinions on how much sleep constitutes a good night’s sleep, but most sleep institutes agree that the amount needed will vary by a person’s age. Children require more sleep earlier on but as they move through their teen years and into adulthood, the generally accepted amount needed for a satisfying nights sleep is about eight hours. Some healthy adults report needing no more than five hours of shut-eye to maintain their daily activities, however, this is not nearly enough. Studies have shown that more than three consecutive nights of less than 6 hours of sleep can impair judgement and contribute to a host of other body ills.
Undoubtedly, stress affects our ability to experience restful, rejuvenate sleep. Our blood pressure, blood sugar levels, and overall heart health are directly influenced by stress. This influences our hormones and triggers interruptive practices like eating sugary foods. These practices can then trigger anxiety, irritability, and insomnia.
Thankfully, there are a few simple things you can do to avoid the sleepless path:
- Don’t consume caffeine in the evenings or before bed; instead, reach for unsweetened raw Kefir or some warm bone broth
- Keep your bedroom free of electronics; make it a sleep-ready zone by avoiding and removing anything with blue light including LED-lighted bedside alarm clocks
- Get up and do something mundane if you can’t sleep. Fold laundry or read a slow novel
- Try yoga before bed as a means of relaxing the body and slowing the breath
- Eat a banana and almonds before bed; these have been shown to help relax your body and mind as well as keep your blood sugar steady while falling asleep
- Consider using herbs including kava, valerian or ashwaganda to calm your nervous system and help lull you into a blissful night’s sleep
Avoid the temptation to stay up late to get one more thing done. Instead, create a pseudo-dusk around 8pm and try to get in bed by 10. This allows ample time for your body to drift off into a deep sleep, rejuvenating and repairing from the previous day’s activities. There’s never a better time to improve your sleep habits than today.