Building Healthy Sleep Habits
Sleep is essential for our health and wellbeing, as it rejuvenates the mind and rests the body. Before the advent of electricity, people used to sleep from sunset to sunrise; a healthy 8-10 hours. However, our fast paced and high-tech world is resulting in people getting less and less sleep. Insomnia can be extremely dangerous, as it is strongly linked to depression and has various other adverse effects ranging from impaired judgment and coordination to a deterioration in physical condition. The following tips should put you on the right track to a good night’s sleep.
This might seem obvious, but is often overlooked: in order to sleep well you first need to get tired. Physical activity of any kind helps release endorphins that are proven to bring down stress levels and contribute to a healthy sleeping pattern. Jogging, cycling, or any other outdoor activities have the additional benefit of boosting melatonin levels, which are crucial for regulating sleep-wake patterns.
Your surroundings have a big role to play in how well you sleep. If your bed is lumpy, or lacks the support you need, you are unlikely to have a rejuvenating sleeping experience. Ideally, the bedroom should have little more than a bed in it. Televisions, lap tops, smartphones and other electrical appliances are the enemies of good sleep, and should be removed from the bedroom altogether. We were designed to sleep in the dark, and there is not much arguing that fact.
Create a routine
It is a common misconception that one can make up for lost sleep just by going to bed extra early one night. Unfortunately, it does not work that way. Your body has its own internal clock, and the most important thing for healthy sleep is consistency. Establishing good sleeping habits means sticking to a routine, and going to bed and waking up at roughly the same times; even on weekends. This consistent sleep rhythm stimulates the brain to release wake and sleep hormones at just the time that they are needed.
Avoid short-term fixes
Many people use various substances to help them fall asleep, be it alcohol or sleeping pills. While this may seem to work in the short run, chemical sleeping aids do not solve the underlying causes of insomnia. Sleeping pills, be they prescription or over the counter, have been proven to be highly addictive and potentially damaging. Alcohol, though sedating and initially sleep inducing, usually impairs sleep during the second part of the night as the body breaks it down.
Stress can be a leading cause of sleeping disorders. Short-term stress can lead to circadian rhythm sleep disorders or even chronic insomnia. We have all, at one point, had the sensation that we cannot “switch off” our minds in order to fall asleep. This is something that can be practiced and perfected through meditation, breathing exercises and yoga. Music is another way to relax the mind before bed. Be it smooth jazz, whale songs or sounds of the rainforest, you are sure to find something to help you gently drift off.
This article was written by April Marshall, proud mother of one beautiful girl. Aspiring photojournalist and creative writer who dabbles in crocheting, knitting, and exploring the great outdoors. Yoga and clean eating have become a way of life for me and I'm passionate about sharing this with others. Born in London and globe trotting since 1990.
Contact April via email: firstname.lastname@example.org