Getting a good night’s sleep is one of the most important habits we must maintain to keep ourselves healthy. It is just as essential as doing regular exercise. This is because our body’s damaged cells and tissues during the day regenerate at certain hours of the night when we sleep. Unfortunately, not many of us get this kind of privilege all the time. Often, we find ourselves tossing and turning in bed and compelling ourselves to drift off to sleep. Sometimes we resort to funny methods like counting sheep or placing too many pillows around us so that we can get that much-needed shut-eye.
Why do we need sleep?
Our bodies are programmed to have a repeated daily cycle of waking up and going to sleep at specific times every day. When we attain the required amount of sleep, our bodies will rejuvenate and restore, to repair damaged cells and tissues, synthesize hormones and grow muscles. This, in turn, gives us optimized energy, retained memory and better performance during the day.
Reasons why going to sleep is difficult
Often, trying to get sleep may be a challenge for some people due to various factors. Some of these common factors include:
- Late night alcohol drinking
Despite what you may think that alcohol helps induce sleep, it is the other way around. Too much alcohol can disrupt REM sleep, and this would cause you to feel more sluggish and feeling fatigued in the morning, not to mention nauseous.
- Your room is too bright
When going to sleep, it is ideal that the room should be free from bright lights. The reason for this is because when our eyes get exposed to light, especially during the night, our bodies decreases the production of melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone that helps induce sleep and lowers body temperature. When this is reduced, our brain is tricked into thinking that it is time to get up. This is especially common for people working in the graveyard shift.
- Consume too much coffee
The purpose of why we take caffeine is for energy boosting and keep us awake, and it runs in your system for an average of five hours. When we drink coffee a few hours before we sleep, it will become difficult for us because of the caffeine in our system.
- Doing late exercises
Once you exercise late and a few hours before your bedtime, you don’t give your body a chance to rest therefore causing your heart rate to pick up and your metabolism overstimulated. This would then cause restlessness, making it difficult to sleep. If you do need to exercise, the best time to do so would be in the morning and not later than in the late afternoon. This would allow our body time to rest and give us better sleep.
- The temperature of your room is warm
When we sleep, our body and brain would naturally need to cool down. If your bedroom is too warm, the uneasiness makes it hard for our body temperature to lower down. Have a fan or turn up the air-conditioning in your room to keep you cool and create white noise and make it easy for you to sleep. Just don’t let it get too cold, as it will also make sleeping difficult.
When we get stressed out, our heart rate picks up and makes our brain have a hard time to program ourselves that we need to sleep.
What happens when we don’t sleep enough?
If we deprive ourselves of quality sleep, we are waiting for negative things to happen regarding our health. Reports show the number of hours of sleep required by different age groups in the following:
– Newborn babies (0-3 months): 14 to 17 hours
– Infants (4-10 months): 12 to 15 hours
– Toddlers (1-2 years): 11 to 14 hours
– Preschool (3-5 years): 10 to 13 hours
– School age (6-13 years): 9 to 11 hours
– Teenagers (14-17 years): 8 to 10 hours
– Young Adults, Adults, and Seniors (18-65 years): 7 to 8 hours
When we lack sleep, short-term problems will happen to our body. This includes:
– Difficulty in memory and retention
– Constantly sluggish, tired and fatigued
– Alertness significantly decreases
– Higher chances of getting into car accidents
– Feeling moody and irritated
When we continue living with lack of sleep for an extended time, more severe problems will start to be noticeable. The critical issues linked to chronic sleep deprivation would include diabetes, heart attacks, stroke, high blood pressure, depression, obesity and even lower libido.
What do we do to get the sleep we need?
When we follow healthy sleeping habits, it will do us a lot of good when it comes to our health and well-being. Unfortunately for most of us, it may not be easy to achieve most of the time. Below are recommendations to help you get that quality sleep that you need.
- We should avoid drinking coffee, alcohol and other chemicals that can interrupt sleep.
Coffee and alcohol are stimulants that can keep us awake. It is best to avoid these type of drinks at least 3 hours before bedtime to guarantee a good night’s sleep.
- Sleep in a room that helps induce sleep and avoid using gadgets
If you’re sleeping during the day, use heavy curtains to cover your room. If your room is dark and quiet, it will help induce sleep. Maintain a relaxed and comfortable temperature and avoid using gadgets before sleeping to help produce more melatonin.
- Exercise or do yoga regularly
Working out is best done usually in the mornings or before late afternoons. Studies have shown the association of good quality sleep and exercise or yoga.
- Try to follow a sleep routine before bedtime
Create a regular pattern of doing relaxing activities like light reading, soaking in the bath, or even breathing exercises at least an hour before bedtime.
- Take a melatonin supplement
There are prescribed melatonin supplements that can aid in letting you sleep faster. For people who are suffering from insomnia, taking supplements are especially beneficial. Melatonin supplements are also useful when traveling to countries with different time zones. You can find these melatonin supplements online or in stores.
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