Bettelou Bhakti Soosaipillai

It seems everywhere I turn I see another article on the benefits of sleeping.  Even though research shows how important sleep is for health. studies show that people are sleeping less and less.The Harvard Women’s Health Watch suggests six reasons to get enough sleep:

  1. Learning and memory: Sleep helps the brain commit new information to memory through a process called memory consolidation. In studies, people who’d slept after learning a task did better on tests later.
  2. Metabolism and weight: Chronic sleep deprivation may cause weight gain by affecting the way our bodies process and store carbohydrates, and by altering levels of hormones that affect our appetite.
  3. Safety: Sleep debt contributes to a greater tendency to fall asleep during the daytime. These lapses may cause falls and mistakes such as medical errors, air traffic mishaps, and road accidents.
  4. Mood: Sleep loss may result in irritability, impatience, inability to concentrate, and moodiness. Too little sleep can also leave you too tired to do the things you like to do.
  5. Cardiovascular health: Serious sleep disorders have been linked to hypertension, increased stress hormone levels, and irregular heartbeat.
  6. Disease: Sleep deprivation alters immune function, including the activity of the body’s killer cells. Keeping up with sleep may also help fight cancer.

Here are some tips for getting a good night’s sleep. First and foremost, the bedroom should be a refuge, a retreat, a haven used only for sleep and sex. Remove clutter and distractions from the bedroom. Yes, that means the TV.

The room should be as quiet as possible. If needed, use earplugs or a “white noise” appliance.

The temperature should be cool , around 60 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

Make sure the mattress and pillows are comfortable. Incidentally, a new mattress should be purchased about every ten years.

Keep the bedroom as dark as possible at night. Use heavy curtains and shades to prevent illumination from streetlights or floodlights from coming through the window.  Cover or unplug all appliances with LED indicators; In a dark room, they put out a tremendous amount of light.

Also, bright lights, too close to bedtime, can interfere with slumber. So, dim the lights about an hour before bedtime. Turn off your smart phone, computer, etc. an hour before it’s time to go to bed.

Stop working! Develop consistent sleep habits. Go to sleep around the same time every night and wake up at around the same time in the morning, even on days off. It will set the internal biological clock. Have a bedtime routine.

Light reading or listening to music is a good way to prepare for sleep. Naps should be short and done early because late day naps decrease sleep drive.

Don’t eat big meals before bed, but hunger and a growling stomach can also promote restlessness. Have a light snack with foods that contain L-troptophan. (Dairy foods, complex carbs or fruit) Four to six hours before bedtime, avoid drinking caffeinated beverages, alcohol, nicotine, any other drug that disturbs sleep.

Although alcohol induces drowsiness, it interferes with the quality of sleep and causes wakefulness later in the night.

If wakefulness during the night is an issue, cover the clock. Staring at the clock leads to frustration which will make it harder to fall back to sleep. Also, at a certain point, it might be better to get up and engage in a relaxing activity than to continue tossing and turning.

The body naturally cools before sleep, so doing anything that might raise the body’s temperature right before bedtime makes it harder to fall asleep. Avoid hot baths a hour before bedtime.

Vigorous exercise routines should also be avoided. Instead choose gentle, restorative yoga which induces relaxation, relieves tension, and facilitates a restful sleep. Schedule workouts earlier in the day.

Meditation is also a practice which leads to a good night’s rest. Implementing these tips should result in a good night’s sleep.

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