Sleep is 1 of the 4 main concerns when trying to achieve optimal health. The other 3 are nutrition, exercise and stress management. During sleep we allow our bodies a chance to repair physical damage from our day. This is of equal importance to our minds need to recharge, Unfortunately, in modern culture people find a need to get less sleep. This can result in devastating consequences. Sleep depravation has such an impact on our mental and physical state that some states prosecute ”fatigued driving” in the same fashion as “drunk driving”.
Some studies have linked the lack of sleep to an array of common illnesses. These include but are not limited to obesity, diabetes, hypertension and heart disease. Poor sleep can effect the metabolism which will inhibit the bodies ability to control blood sugar. Sleeplessness can cause imbalances in the release of hormones like cortisol. This can lead to the weakening of the immune system. Further more this can result in memory loss, mood swings and depression. Sleep deprivation may also have a significant impact on one’s life expectancy.
On the the other hand, there is strong evidence that a healthy sleep regimen can greatly benefit a persons physical and mental well-being along with their general quality of life. Proper sleep is among the top ways we have to stay healthy. We function at our best after a good nights sleep. We are better people overall when we are at ease. We are less prone to reach for drugs or alcohol to get high or numb ourselves when the going gets tough.
How to get better sleep:
At first address your ability to fall asleep. Many people in this day and age have trouble getting to sleep but do not know why. Do you eat poorly late at night? Many foods can cause our blood sugar to fluctuate which can cause the release of adrenalin. Do you engage in stressful activity close to bed? Some people have passionate discussions or work on important tasks right before bed. These activities along with arguing with a loved one can contribute to an inability to fall asleep. Are you physically active before bed. Things like exercise are best done earlier in your day. Once you get your body flowing it takes time for everything to calm down. Do you consume much caffeine? Caffeine is know to last 4 to 6 hours. It is not uncommon for someone to end up prescribed sleep aids with out considering the fact that they drink 6 cups of coffee in a day.
Proteins help keep our blood sugar at an even level to avoid adrenalin spikes. Also milk and some other proteins have the amino acid l-tryptophan that promotes relaxation. Other dietary aids include chamomile, mint, ginger, hops and valarian root. In addition to this you can make sure to finish conversation, work, television or other stimulating things an hour or more before bed and switch to something relaxing like reading a book or listening to gentle music.
If you like the idea of a “night cap” which is an alcoholic drink before bed you may want to think twice. The beverage may make you tired at first but the alcohol acts like sugar and shortly after ingesting it can cause a surge of adrenalin to pump through your veins causing restless sleep. Nicotine acts in a similar way to alcohol. You may think having a cigarette or cigar relaxes you, but it actually releases stimulants into your blood stream. If you have trouble sleeping at night then you want to avoid any naps during the day.
You should reserve your bedroom for sex and sleep only. Don’t make it your habit to watch TV or eat in bed. Minimize disturbances by eliminating noise and light as much as possible. If you are a light sleeper and awake easily, you should install window blinds and wear ear plugs. Keep your bedroom temperature at a constant level a few degrees cooler than the rest of your home. If you get up during the night, avoid exposure to bright lights.
Sleep may very well be the most important of the 4 top priorities for obtaining optimal health. It has been linked to more health complications than we can explain why. Getting enough sleep along with sleeping at the same times every night will help you be well on your way to a long and healthy life.