It sounds silly, right? We’re all led to believe that we need to be peddling at a hundred miles an hour, and frantically spinning plates to keep up with everyone else. If we stop, even for a minute, we will fall behind. So, we stay up late and rise early. We’re sending work emails on our phones from our beds and updating our Instagram feeds right before we hit the pillow to make sure we stay relevant.
The reality is, we are running on empty, careening toward burnout and becoming increasingly unproductive and uncreative. Rest is crucial; it replenishes us, recharges, and resets us. It also sets us up for a happier now and a healthier future, and yet we neglect it. So, why is sleep so important, and how can we improve our sleep habits?
Why do we sleep?
While you sleep, your brain is undergoing a complex array of tasks, which are crucial to both it’s short and longer-term healthy functioning. In layman’s terms, your brain is undertaking a clean-up and repair operation while you sleep. It is clearing away debris (harmful toxins and proteins) that have built up during the day, storing information away, and patching up neural wiring (to butcher the science).
Lack of sleep can have a pretty instantaneous negative effect and impair our ability to function well at a variety of tasks. Over time, and when sleep deprivation becomes chronic, it can have more significant, more worrying, health implications.
How can we sleep better?
- Optimize your sleeping environment.
If you’re too hot or too cold, it’s a struggle to fall asleep. The ideal sleep temperature will vary from person to person, but it is suggested to be between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit.
Try to keep the room dark. It might be worth considering a blackout blind. Also note that if you have lots of blue or blinking lights from various electrical appliances, this could be disrupting your sleep. Try to minimize these within your bedroom as much as possible, or cover them while you sleep. If your phone is charging right beside you while you sleep, is it intermittently flashing light at you? While you may not notice it consciously, this could be a hindrance to a peaceful night’s sleep.
- Create a bedtime routine.
Ensure that you are consistent with this, and over time it will become the signal to your body and brain that they should begin preparing for sleep. The Sleep Foundation recommends dedicating 30 minutes before bed to a wind-down activity such as reading, listening to soothing music, or stretching. Try to put down all electronic devices such as cell phones and laptops, 30 minutes before bed, as these will keep your brain whirring away and in active-mode.
- Consider herbal supplements.
You might find that a herbal supplement such as Magnesium, which is thought to aid sleep, could be beneficial for you. You can find Magnesium supplements, and a variety of other natural sleep aids, at www.pharmacyonline.com.au.
- Re-evaluate your caffeine intake.
Studies suggest that caffeine can continue to disrupt your sleep up to 6 hours after it has been consumed. So, you do the math. Set your sleep routine and then ensure that your last cup of coffee, tea, or other caffeinated drink is at least 6 hours before bedtime.
Protecting your overall health and well-being is a vital part of achieving any goal, whether that’s in your career or in your personal life. Prioritizing consistent and quality sleep is likely to improve your productivity, creativity, health, and happiness, and help you on your path toward finding balance and achieving success in your life. So, sleep tight and sweet dreams all.