According to data from the CDC, more than 30-percent of American adults don’t get enough sleep. To most people, this statistic doesn’t cause much concern. Western culture sees a lack of sleep as a positive cultural aspect. After all, if you’re not getting enough sleep, it’s because you’re getting things done in your life.
“I’ll sleep when I’m dead,” is a favourite saying amongst entrepreneurs and business executives. These individuals value production time over downtime between the sheets.
People that embrace this cultural aspect don’t understand the critical role that sleep plays in our life. While we sleep our body and mind reset, clearing toxins and stress accumulated during the daylight waking hours.
A continued lack of sleep will affect our physiological and psychological state, and not for the better.
The Dangers associated with a Lack of Sleep
Dr. Matthew Walker is a sleep expert. He’s studied the effect of sleep on the body and mind for his entire professional medical career. Walker states that a lack of sleep results in the development of a wide variety of adverse health conditions.
Not getting enough time between the sheets exposes us to a higher risk of developing mental illness. Studies show that people receiving less than 8-hours of sleep may induce conditions such as high-anxiety, nervous system disorders, and cognitive dysfunction. A lack of sufficient sleep leads to a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
How Much Sleep is necessary?
Dr. Walker states that it’s vital we receive 8-hours of sleep every night. Studies show that under-sleeping and over-sleeping past this threshold both have adverse health effects. Therefore, sleeping in is just as bad for your health as not getting enough sleep.
Sleep Hygiene – 8 Habits to Manage and Improve Your Rest
“Sleep hygiene,” is a relatively new term that describes sleeping habits surrounding the period before, during, and after sleep. Here are 8-habits you can introduce to optimize your bedtime and its therapeutic effect on your body and mind.
1. Keep a Regular Sleeping Schedule
Go to bed at the same time every night and wake at the same time every morning. This routine establishes a robust circadian rhythm – the cycle that governs your sleep process. Setting a regular sleep and waking cycle will help you get to sleep without tossing and turning.
2. Don’t Nap During the Day
Many people think an afternoon nap is a good idea. Dr. Walker suggests that it’s quite the contrary. Napping deregulates circadian rhythms and exposes you to health risks, such as the development of type-2 diabetes.
3. Avoid Caffeine and Stimulants 6-hours Before Bedtime
It should seem obvious that caffeine and other stimulants like nicotine will keep you awake if you choose to consume them in the late afternoon and evening.
4. Limit Alcohol Intake
Drinking alcohol in the evening isn’t a good idea if you want a good night’s rest. Alcohol metabolizes while you sleep and may cause you to wake up frequently during the night.
5. Regular Exercise
A daily workout schedule releases tension and toxins built up during the day. Regular exercise will tire your body and prepare you for better sleep.
6. Regulate Your Sleep Waking Cycle
Make sure you sleep in a dark environment. Use an eye mask to block out all light and prevent your brain from waking up too early.
7. Limit Screen Time Before Bed
Cell phone screens, laptops, and other mobile devices emit blue light. This light is similar to sunlight and tricks the brain into thinking that it’s still daytime. Avoid staring at screens for a few hours before bedtime.
8. Create a Bedtime Routine
Establishing a bedtime ritual is a great way to ensure your body drifts off to sleep effortlessly. Run a hot bath with essential oils. Drink a cup of chamomile tea, and read a few pages of a book. This strategy will help your body relax and prime it for sleep.