One of the pillars to good health is getting enough and the right kind of sleep, but what is the best way to improve both sleep quality and duration in our often-hectic lives?
First of all, understand the importance of sleeping. Without exaggeration good sleep and enough of it undergird our entire health! Lacking sleep and poor quality sleep set us up for not only mental distress, but also physical harm. Inadequate sleep can result in anxiety and depression symptoms, addiction relapse, difficulty with mental functions including memory and irritability even in short term sleep deficit. In the longer term, sleep deprivation wreaks havoc on our physical systems causing diabetes, heart disease, cancer, gastrointestinal issues, and immune disorders. Sleep is a big deal.
Often we are encouraged to take medication or have a drink or find some alternative sleep aid. It would be really easy if sleep came in a pill, but it doesn’t alcohol and marijuana (although the research is not conclusive on CBD only) both disturb and shorten REM (rapid eye movement) sleep cycles to the detriment of our health. Many over-the-counter and prescription sleep aids also have an undesirable long-term effect. So we are usually better off trying to find our own groove with our sleep.
Here are a few tips:
- Make time for between 7 and 9 hours for sleep every day. Consistency counts.
- Exercise, preferably earlier in the day if it is an intense workout.
- Hydrate, also early in the day, so you are not catching up on water before bed.
- Limit all screen time before bed.
- Create a bedtime routine that includes relaxing activities like bathing, reading, puzzles, soft music, meditation, breathing exercises, progressive relaxation or self-massage.
- Go to bed at the same time and wake at the same time every day.
Anyone committed to their health, needs to consider their sleep habits as a powerhouse to enlist toward their goals. Whether you want to feel better, reduce inflammation, loose weight, feel more energetic or be able to keep pace mentally, sleep is a foundational.
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