Despite the fact that you know you “should” get enough sleep, it’s usually the first thing to go when other things arise, which is unfortunate because sleep is good for both mental and physical health.
Mentally, we’re more alert (and less accident-prone) when we’ve slept well. We’re also typically more productive and we make better choices. Sleep is the number one way to start to feel better when facing anxiety and depression. Everything becomes much more rational when we have good sleep on board.
Sleep is also extremely important for physical health. Lack of sleep contributes to weight gain in a number of ways:
• Your body produces chemicals that curb appetite when you sleep.
• NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis) goes down when you don’t sleep, which means you don’t burn as many calories during the day.
• Your choices (for food and otherwise) are not as good when you’re sleep deprived)
• An of course, with weight gain comes a slew of physical health problems.
Here are 7 tips to ease you into a better sleep habit
1. Making sleep a priority doesn’t happen overnight
If you get about 4 hours now, don’t expect to start sleeping eight house perfectly tomorrow. Instead, start incrementally. Go to bed 15 minutes earlier every few nights. Also, don’t get caught up with going to bed and waking up at the same time very day. Instead, try to focus on having consistent sleep patterns rather than trying to be perfect.
2. Build a better bedtime routine
Turn off the TV and electronics 45 minutes before you want to go to sleep. That’s how long it takes for the brain to slow down. Do something calming before sleep like reading a non-work related book or taking a bath. Just make sure that your routine is similar every day.
3. Your bedroom is for sleeping
Period. Take out the television, don’t eat in there. Don’t work in there. Make it a sanctuary of serenity.
4. The best environment to sleep in is cool, quiet and dark
Best sleep takes place in a cooler environment, ideally one that’s between 65-72°F/ The mild drop in body temperature induces sleep. Switch off the lights and minimize any external light with the use of blackout shades. If you’re a light sleeper, ear plugs will help reduce sounds (or snoring!)
If you tend to wake up in the middle of the night with worry:
5. Keep a notepad next to your bed
Jot down your thoughts as a reminder to address these at a later time. This will help calm your nerves so you can fall back to sleep easier.
6. Take slow deep breaths
Inhale to a count of 4 and exhale to a count of 4. This will regulate and calm down your heart rate, as well as shift your focus away from your racing thoughts.
7. Practice progressive muscle relaxation
Starting at your toes, gradually move up the body as you tense and then release one muscle at a time. Use your deep breathing skills as you do this. Before long, you’ll be fast asleep.
Originally from PRO Pulse March-April 2016
By Ali Sokolow