Remember when you were a child, sleep was that thing you did your best to avoid? Dreading your bedtime, you probably had every excuse in the book to stay up for just a few more minutes, even if you were irritable and dozing off. Being awake just seemed to be more interesting and the thought of missing out was unsettling. Weekends, holidays, and vacations were highly anticipated because that meant you could stay all hours of the night to have fun.
As adults, things haven’t changed much. In addition to work, running a business, caring for loved ones, as well as just enjoying life, getting a full night’s rest where we wake up refreshed can seem impossible. Add to that the time vampires of email and endless scrolling of social media stalking, it’s no wonder that we may be sleep deprived and void of motivation. We also live in a culture where the mindset of “grinding” means not sleeping in order to reach your goals. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being focused on goals and greatness but in the long run, sleep deprivation can have detrimental effects on health and peak performance.
Research shows that getting a good 7-8 hours of sleep on a consistent basis helps to heal and repair the body, reduces our risk of chronic diseases, as well as accidents. Getting the proper amount of sleep also reduces stress, improves cognitive function, and even helps to regulate weight (late night snacks anyone?) Overall, a proper night’s rest helps you to look and feel better. So if your are constantly feeling fatigued and irritable or unable to concentrate on your day-to-day tasks, perhaps you need more sleep. Try these tips to get a better night’s rest.
Your Melatonin and Circadian Rhythm
Our sleep and wake cycles are regulated by melatonin, a hormone created in the pineal gland, located in the brain. This hormone, which helps you fall asleep, rises mid to late evening and begins to decrease in production closer toward waking hours. Melatonin regulates other hormones in your body as well maintains your circadian rhythm, also known as your internal time clock. When these two factors are disrupted by things like shift work, school, travel across time zones, and even becoming a new parent, your repair and restorative function is no longer functioning properly, thus making you more susceptible to sleep disorders, fatigue, disease, and even depression.
To get better sleep, try the following:
- Turn Off The Lights. Those melatonin levels that are supposed to increase at night to help you fall asleep are affected by the light from the television, computer your cellular phone that you probably sleep with. About an hour or so before bed, power down your devices so that your mind and body can enter a more relaxed state so that you can fall asleep faster.
- Be Consistent. Try to keep the same sleep schedule/routine on days off and weekends so that your sleep schedule wont be disrupted. Also, try to get up when the sun rises.
- Try White Noise. Have trouble getting to sleep? Try the consistent hum of white noise that will put you in a relaxed state and can also cover any other disruptive sounds that may keep you awake. There are great apps that you can download onto your phone and set with a timer. You will catch zzzz’s in no time.
- Lower caffeine consumption. Do this particularly toward the end of the evening for obvious reasons.
- Keep Your Cool. Cooler temperatures can induce the feelings of sleepiness, especially when your head is cool. Start with a temperature of 65-67 degrees.
- Try Natural Solutions: If all else fails, you can always get help with natural solutions like melatonin or valerian root. These helpers will slowly ease you into a deep slumber. You will awake refreshed without the groggy hangover feeling.