Why is it important to get a good night sleep? Ever have those days when you think everyone hates you, or the world is against you? Are you occasionally attacked by a bone-deep knowing that everyone has it figured out except you?!
Most of of us have! I know I have.
I also know that, logically, these thoughts are not based in reality. The chances of me being the only person who somehow hasn’t ‘figured out life’ is vanishingly small. It’s actually a bonkers and ego-centric thing to believe.
So why do we so often believe these things – and why do they feel SO true!?
Surprisingly – poor sleep might be the answer. Sleep research has found that even minor sleep deprivation causes brain changes similar to findings observed in some psychiatric disorders. Poor sleep is consistently associated with increased levels of depression, anxiety, psychosis, and paranoia.
That’s right! If you’re consistently sleep deprived or rarely getting a good quality sleep, it’s very likely that some of the things you believe about your life are the result of honest to goodness delusion and paranoia.
About 2 years ago, I started taking my sleep seriously.
I can’t even remember why – but one day I just decided to go to bed when I was tired. Revolutionary – I know!
I can honestly say that what followed improved my life in every way!
I woke up feeling more positive about the day and I got more done, more efficiently
Being more efficient made it easier to go to bed when I felt tired again, instead of forcing myself to keep being productive
As this became a habit, I started being more efficient at work, making it more likely that I could leave on time
Leaving work on time meant I had more time at home to get things done and relax with my family – leading to a
vicioushappy cycle of prioritizing sleep and getting more done as a result
BEST OF ALL – I noticed, more and more, that I was experiencing an improved mood during the day, more interest in socializing with my colleagues at work, and more patience with my children. I also had fewer and fewer days where I felt like a victim of my life, or like a loser who doesn’t know how to do anything right……and GUESS WHAT?! – it’s easier to relax and sleep when you’re not preoccupied with thoughts of how much you suck and how the universe hates you. Go figure!
The Importance of a Good Night Sleep
Both my personal experience and extensive sleep research indicate that getting consistently good quality sleep can be life changing.
Whether you’re dealing with stress, a busy lifestyle or just can’t seem to shut your brain off at night, finding ways to sleep better can be tough.
The Science of Sleep
Do you know the science of sleep? It’s fascinating!
Sleep plays a critical role in maintaining and improving our health and life.
The body undergoes a number of changes when we sleep, including repairing and regenerating tissue, strengthening the immune system, and improving your mental health.
In order to get the most out of our nighttime sleep, it’s important to understand the different phases of sleep and what our bodies are doing during each on.
REM stands for Rapid Eye Movement. REM sleep is a type of sleep that occurs when we dream. During REM sleep, our eyes move rapidly from side to side and our brain activity increases. REM sleep is important for memory and learning.
This is a type of sleep that is important for physical recovery, cell regeneration and restoring energy levels. During this phase of sleep, our heart rate and breathing slow down, our body temperature drops, and our blood pressure decreases. Deep sleep is crucial for your physical and mental health.
Light sleep is another type of non REM sleep. Light sleep is a type of sleep that is not as deep or restful as REM or deep sleep. This type of sleep is important for our physical and mental well-being.
A good night’s sleep will include a combination of these three types of sleep. Even on a night when you get less sleep, getting a good balance of these 3 can improve your health and alertness.
By knowing the science of sleep, we can work towards getting the most out of our shut-eye. Implementing some simple tips can make a huge difference in how well we sleep, and consequently, in our everyday lives.
How a Good Night Sleep Affects Your Health
There’s a good reason why sleep is often called “the most important thing in life.” Your sleep patterns and hours of sleep can have a serious impact on your health, both physically and mentally.
Sleep Health, Sleep Quality & Sleep Deprivation
We know from sleep research that sleep health, including sleep quality and sleep hours have a significant impact on health. Poor sleep health is associated with:
Increased risk of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Weaker immune system
Increased risk of cancer
Poor cognitive function
Increased stress levels
The position that you sleep in can also play a significant role in your quality of sleep. For more information on sleep positions, read our post “Back, Side, or Stomach Sleeping: Which Sleep Position is the Best for You?“
7 Tips for Getting a Good Night Sleep
There are a number of fairly simple strategies that can improve your sleep whether you occasionally have trouble falling asleep or struggle with a sleep disorder.
1. Sleep Environment
Create a cool, comfortable environment for sleep. A cool dark environment promotes sleep. It’s not always possible to make your sleep environment as dark as you’d like. Wearing a good quality sleep mask can help you create the right environment to achieve deep sleep.
2. Sleep Schedule
Establish a regular sleep schedule. Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day will help your body get into a rhythm and make it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep
3. Minimize Caffeine
Avoid caffeine in the evening and before bed. Caffeine can keep you awake for hours after drinking it and can disrupt sleep contributing to poor sleep quality by altering your sleep wake cycle throughout the night.
While I’ve yet to give up my morning cup of coffee, I have replaced my afternoon caffeine boost with magic mushrooms. Ok – not those kind of magic mushrooms… but adaptogen mushroom coffee that gives me the energy boost I need without the caffeine side-effects. Functional mushrooms and Adaptogens have been used around the world for centuries to improve productivity, immune support, and more.
Benefits other than reduced caffeine intake include enhanced focus, improved concentration and memory. This tasty little drink helps me get through the 2pm – 4pm slump when my brain threatens to stop doing things for the rest of the day!
If you’re not ready to commit to 100% mushrooms, try a coffee-adaptogen mix. It tastes exactly like coffee to me and provides all the benefits of adaptogen mushrooms while reducing the impact of caffeine.
4. Avoid Alcohol before Bed
Avoid alcohol before bed. Alcohol can disrupt your sleep cycle and cause sleep disturbances that make it harder to stay asleep. Poor quality sleep can be as detrimental as a short sleep duration. Avoiding alcohol before bed can help you get a deeper sleep. Check out this article from Very Well Health for more on alcohols affect on your sleep.
5. Avoid or Block Blue Light
Avoid working or using electronic devices in bed. The bright blue light from screens can keep you awake, while working in bed can make it harder to relax and fall asleep. For more on this, read our post about Digital Detox!
Avoiding screens before bed isn’t always realistic these days. If that’s the case for you, try wearing blue light blocking glasses throughout the evening. I have resorted to wearing blue-light blocking glasses throughout the day. My sleep quality has definitely improved and I have also noticed a decrease in eye strain throughout the day.
6. Move your Body
Establish a regular exercise routine (do some yoga, go for a walk or a hike), or at the very least get up and move around every few hours during the day to keep your body active. Get your body moving!
7. Relaxation Sleep Aids
Practice some relaxation techniques before bed. Deep breathing exercises, visualization exercises, or simple stretching can help you relax and prepare for bed.
If anxiety or a racing mind are preventing you from getting into a good sleep habit, our post on Anxiety and Vagus Nerve might help.
How Much Sleep Do We Need?
Sleep research suggests that a healthy adult needs 7-8 hours of sleep.
Why 7-8 Hours for a Good Night Sleep?
There are a number of reasons why 7-8 hours is the ideal amount of sleep. For one, this is the amount of time that our bodies need to repair and regenerate cells.
Getting less than 7 hours of sleep can lead to a host of health problems, including weight gain, depression, and anxiety. In addition, sleep deprivation or poor sleep can impair our ability to focus and make decisions. Getting enough sleep is crucial for our physical and mental health.
A Good Night Sleep is Closer Than You Think!
Getting a good night sleep is one of the most important things you can do for your health and well being. Sleeping better can change your life, and following these 7 Essential Tips for a Good Night Sleep is a great place to start!