Updated October 14, 2019
It’s true; there’s no greater wealth than good health. Superior health is not just physical, but it is also a mental health issue. Both of these health issues work together and are essential for your “life” well-being. One of the most significant quests that will pay-off in your life — is ways to sleep soundly at night.
Understanding the Need for Self-care
“Time and health are two precious assets that we don’t recognize and appreciate until they have been depleted.” -Denis Waitley
In recent times, technology and digital devices have taken over our lives.
Everyone has a smartphone they’re using the entire day, not to mention the hectic schedules and deadlines each of has to deal with. While the quality and standard of life has certainly improved, it has come at a price; health.
Health isn’t something that can or should be gambled with. Two factors play a significant role in how healthy you are, namely, diet and sleep. Eating the right food and sleeping the right amount can create that perfect balance for your health to rely on.
By neglecting certain factors, you run the risk of falling ill or taking a hit to your immune system and attracting diseases that might otherwise be avoided.
Even at workplaces, many companies are beginning to lay a foundation that prioritizes the effort to set up a work environment that promotes welfare for health. Start-ups today are working on building a culture that encourages wellness because they understand how health and wellness will impact productivity and growth.
For now, we’re going to focus on one of these factors – sleep. The right amount of sleep, and also the right quality of sleep, can make a significant difference to your health both mentally and physically.
Studies have shown that although all adults require a minimum of six to seven hours of sleep, eight hours have remained the constant recommendation. 35% of Americans sleep less than that every night. 20% of adult Americans have some form of sleep disorder, and almost all teenagers are sleeping less than the needs of their bodies indicate is best.
There are several reasons why we sleep less or don’t get a favorable quality sleep, but we seem no to pay attention to these points of our lives. Stress, ill health, distractions, lack of will, physical lethargy, lack of exercise, eating food at odd times all contribute to poor health and poor sleep habits.
Apart from the reasons that are beyond our capacity, such as genetic sleep disorders, most other factors are very much under our control. And yet, since the year 1985, the percentage of adults getting inadequate sleep has increased by over 30%.
The Health Effects of Improper Sleep
1. Brain Matters
The brain is the center in the body that is responsible for functions like concentration, focus, responsiveness, and memory, amongst many others. The habit of forgetting easily plagues many people today and can be seen, especially in young adults who are supposed to have a great memory.
Sleep deprivation has been cited as one of the main reasons why both short and long-term memory can be adversely impacted. A lack of sleep hampers Even focus and concentration.
Essential for working individuals and entrepreneurs, who need to adjust their mindset for success through their habits and determination, a good nights sleep and adequate rest are key factors.
2. Mood Swings
Mood swings aren’t an alien concept, and everyone goes through them, but there is a threshold even for this common malady. Consistently suffering from mood swings and feeling like you’re not in control of your behavior is not normal, and can very well be a side effect of tiresomeness and lack of sleep. An escalation in this situation can lead to much more severe issues like anxiety and depression.
3. Weakened Immunity
Immunity is what helps us fight against harmful bacteria, viruses, and pollution that we encounter daily in the air. Our immune system keeps the body functioning and ready to take on any illnesses.
However, weak immunity can leave the body vulnerable and exposed to such threats on a larger scale, increasing the risk of ill-health. Improper sleep is a cause and affect issue with the immunity levels in the body.
New cell generation and the health and strength of the cell wall protect the body against disease. In a body without adequate sleep — the cells aren’t healthy enough to fight foreign substances nor diseases.
4. Weight Gain
If you sleep less, it doesn’t mean that you’re somehow stronger — or that you’re not lazy. Contrary to popular belief, the right amount of sleep can actually help you with your weight loss and fitness journey. We may not need to lose any weight, but our lives need to always be on a fitness journey.
Leaving your body with inadequate amounts of sleep will invite a fatigued body and can reverse your metabolism. This lowered metabolism will then tend to break down food slower, causing you to put on weight even if you’re not overeating.
5. Skin and Hair
Taking care of your skin and hair is essential, not just for women but for men too. It’s not just about looking good or grooming, but also about maintaining the quality of your hair and skin.
Apart from what you eat and genetic conditions, sleep can have either a positive or negative effect on your skin and hair. People who sleep well have healthier hair, lesser hair fall, clearer, and more glowing skin, and look fresh and healthy overall.
How to Achieve Sound Sleep at Night
There are a number of habits and conscious efforts you can make to ensure that you’re sleeping well every night. These habits may involve making some serious lifestyle changes. Alterations to the habits you’ve had for a long time need not be a distressing issues; little by little (time) and a little self-reflection can go a long way.
Let’s look at some tips on how you can achieve sound sleep:
1. Eating Healthy
Believe it or not, what you put into your body can have a significant impact on how well you sleep at night. When you eat healthily, your body finds it easier to break down the matter and absorb the nutrients. This way, when it’s time for you to sleep, your body is also at rest and in sync with your mind trying to rest.
However, junk food and food lacking in nutrition is a lot tougher for the body to digest, and also ends up storing more fat cells in the body. The body stays active, trying to break down the food while you’re trying to sleep. The body fighting to sleep, yet still having to work on digestion can cause acidity and other problems.
The results may show-up in disturbed sleep or what you’d describe as “tossing around in bed.” And it’s not just what you eat but also when you eat. Untimely meals, heavy meals, and meals just before bed can cause sleep deprivation.
Ultimately the goal is to eat healthy because all of the functions in your body are interrelated. Eating healthy can contribute to a healthy sleep cycle.
2. Stay Active
Staying active doesn’t have to mean hitting the gym for an hour every day; staying active is simply about keeping your body engaged in a sufficient amount of physical activity in a day so that you’re tired enough to fall asleep comfortably at night.
Most of us who work 9 to 5 jobs tend to have sedentary lifestyles, so physical activity is on the minimum. Over time, while our minds are constantly on a treadmill of thoughts, and the body is doing quite the opposite.
To avoid sitting all day while you’re awake and running all night when you are asleep there are some simple, everyday steps you can take to stay active:
- Take the stairs whenever you can.
- Walk or cycle around to places instead of driving or taking a cab.
- Do a short at-home workout even if you can’t hit the gym.
- Wake up early and get to bed early.
- If there are chores to be done around the house, try to do them yourself.
- Engage in fun activities during holidays, like dance classes or marathons.
The way to accomplish this goal is fairly simple. You will need to take the opportunity — every day — and participate in activities. If you eat right consistently, and exercise — sleeping soundly at night will not be that difficult.
3. Regulate Caffeine Intake
We understand that coffee or tea can be boosters throughout the day, especially when you have too much to do and not enough energy to keep up with it. Over time, caffeine consumption can become a habit that’s hard to get rid of.
Over 90% of adult Americans consume caffeine daily, at least once, so it shows how caffeine does become a part of our diet. However, while canceling caffeine out might not be feasible; regulating it surely is.
Here are some tips for lowering your caffeine consumption:
- Instead of consuming multiple cups of coffee a day, reduce it to one or maybe two.
- Don’t consume caffeine on an empty stomach, and always accompany it with bread, biscuits, or some other light snacks.
- Avoid caffeine consumption late at night, especially when it’s bedtime, even if you think that it doesn’t affect you.
- Try not to take your coffee too strong, because it contains more caffeine and will stay in your body for a more extended period.
- Choose decaf whenever you can.
Caffeine stays in the body for six to eight hours after consumption, which is why multiple cups of coffee or even tea can have adverse effects on your sleep. Black tea, lactose-free milk, or even hot chocolate without milk are better alternatives before going to bed.
4. Having a Sleep Schedule
As boring as it may sound, maintaining a sleep schedule can do wonders for your sleep cycles. The “body clock,” as it’s popularly known, adjusts itself to your sleeping habits (and other habits) over time.
For example, if you’re used to waking up at seven am every day, and you’ve done so for a long period of time, you’ll most likely wake up at seven. You’ll wake up close to seven automatically even if your alarm fails to ring one day. When you know longer need your alarm — it’s a sign that your body has adjusted to this sleep cycle.
When you make sleeping late, waking up late, or even getting lesser hours of sleep a habit, your body clock will adjust to this habit, and that’s what it is — a habit. And while it might seem like a convenient arrangement, it can be quite unhealthy for you. Instead, you need to get your body adjusted to a healthy sleep schedule and make the effort to maintain that precise schedule as much as you can.
5. Bedroom Environment
The environment you sleep in can have either a positive or negative impact on your sleep. While we do pay attention to how our bedrooms look, how much attention do we pay to how it feels? The temperature, cleanliness, and comfort of your bedroom are all factors that determine how optimal your bedroom is to sleep in. You will want to set a cooler temperature in this room. You’ll also want to also keep your room and bed clean.
Another critical factor is the mattress you sleep on. Sleeping on the wrong mattress can be detrimental to your sleep, and also cause other ailments like body aches and bruises. When you purchase a mattress, you need to keep health as a priority and pick one that is suitable to your body, even if you have to spend a little more on this piece of equipment.
Look at a bed size chart by Mattress Insider that can be a helpful guide for making the right choice.
6. Prioritize Relaxation
When you’re constantly on the move, both mind, and body, you have very little time to recuperate. Even machines need time to reboot now and then, and we are, after all, only human. As you get older, you are going to want to take a little more time off to just relax and rejuvenate.
You can do this in many ways, but with the ultimate goal of rehabilitating and recovering from whatever stress you’ve been through throughout the day.
Here are some tips for body and mind rejuvenation:
- Meditate or listen to calming music before bed while setting a relaxing tone in your room.
- Take hot showers and soak your body in soothing bathing salts now and then.
- Take a short holiday whenever you get the time.
- Read a good book and make it a ritual before bed. Reading helps with more sound sleep.
- Take a massage or visit the spa in general whenever you can.
- Reinforce positive energy into your body through positive environments and habits.
All of these suggestions may seem like essential tips, but how many people can say that they follow them? It’s not unusual for people to prioritize relaxation as they chase their ambitions and goals. Your favored goals will never be achieved if you’ve failed to take important self-care measures for yourself along the way. What good is a muscle car if the engine is faulty, right?
Good Sleep Takes Making it a Priority
You likely already know most of this information about taking care of your body with the right amounts of sleep. But I’m hoping that seeing this clearly listed here will help you set your goal for improving this very vital issue for optimal physical and mental health. Get the proper amount of sleep — start today.
Undisturbed sleep can be a real blessing, and its positive effects can be seen in many spheres of your life. You’ll be in a better mood, more active, less grumpy and sad, and watch your sleep impact your productivity and enthusiasm for life.
Step one to achieving the new fantastic you is recognizing the faults in your sleep patterns and begin your steps to fix this without delay. A few good hours of undeterred sleep can give you so many benefits — you are not going to want to miss out.