“Sleep more. Sleep deep.” Make this your mantra. When you are not well rested, it is harder to make healthy food choices, your ability to focus on tasks decreases, and you are more vulnerable to a number of chronic illnesses, including heart disease and Alzheimer's. A new study, published in Neurology, also found that sleep deprivation shrinks the brain. The amount of sleep that a person needs varies from one person to another, but on average most adults need about seven to eight hours of sleep each night to feel alert and well rested.
In a fast-paced environment, many people forgo sleep and overextend themselves to catch up on work. In fact, more than 50 million Americans have problems dropping off or snoozing soundly. Sleep is a deep part of the body’s rhythms, and it’s one of the harder habits to change. That said, it’s changeable.
Here are a few tips to soothe your nerves and pave the way to better z's.
1. TURN OFF THE SCREENS!
Do you watch TV in bed, read a book on your iPad before snoozing, or are sending out that last email before hitting the sack? This could be disturbing your quality of sleep. Blue light, produced from computers, TV, cellphones, and iPads, is the most disturbing light when trying to go to sleep because it immediately shuts down your production of melatonin, the major sleep hormone that we produce at night. Turn off the electronic devices 1 hour before bedtime. Remove any distractions (mentally and physically) that will prevent you from sleeping.
2. DEVELOP A ROUTINE
Maintaing a consistent schedule is critical for healthy sleep habits. This means getting to bed at the same time every night and waking around the same time every morning. This will help maintain your bodys internal clock ( it's true we really do have an internal clock ) and help you fall asleep and wake more easily. According to sleep experts, a regular schedule not only tends to increase the amount of sleep people get each night, it can also improve the quality of that sleep.
3. AVOID THAT AFTERNOON CUP OF JOE
Hitting up Starbucks with your coworkers at 3 pm is always a nice way to get out of the office. Trust me, I feel ya! But coffee can interfere with your ability to sleep for up to eight hours after your last sip, so skip it if you want to sleep better tonight. Swap for herbal tea instead on your daily coffee runs.
4. SLEEP LIKE A BABY
Anyone that is a parent knows that bedtime involves a systematic routine. First you give your baby a warm bath and maybe a warm bottle. Then you head into their room, turn down the shades, and make the room dark and comfortable. To soothe the baby maybe you rock them, sing, or read. Eventually the child is sleeping deeply because you've created this ritual. I love the image of being a baby again - which is why I want you to develop similar bedtime rituals.
It takes time to unwind the body and mind. At least an hour before bedtime, start slowing down. Try taking a warm bath, brush your teeth, put on your comfy PJs, grab a book ( no kindle!), and make yourself an herbal tea. Drinking calming herbal teas such as chamomile, passionflower, valarian, zizyphus or skullcap before bed is a lovely way to relax the nervous system and aid the transition into a restful sleep. These herbs are beneficial for people who have trouble sleeping. When you feel yourself getting sleepy turn down the lights and shades and make your room as dark as possible. I love spraying a little bit of lavender essential oil on my pillows. Research has suggested that lavender oil is calming and encourages sleep.
5. WRITE IT DOWN
Still stressed out? Do you have a million things running through your brain? Try writing them down in a journal next to your bed. Visualizing what you are stressed about can help put the mind at ease so you can sleep.
I hope this helps. I wish good sleep on all of my friends, including you! I admit that I love my sleep and I practice these methods each day so I can sleep soundly and deeply.