We all need to sleep. Without those eight hours a night, we find ourselves struggling to muster the effort needed to progress through and enjoy life. Work-based tasks suffer because we don’t have the mental energy or endurance needed to carry them out, and pleasurable activities don’t carry that same enjoyment because we are too exhausted to concentrate.
This article will take you through a few of the reasons why a full period of sleep is the key to a healthy mind and body while giving you a couple of tidbits on how to attain that wellness.
Sleep and Physical Health
We are constantly using physical energy in everything we do. Whether that is walking, running, holding something, or even sitting up straight at a desk. Our energy levels are required to keep our bodies going.
Our immune system, without the right energy, will also suffer. When your body is not in active mode, the immune system works to build up the body’s defenses. Cytokines are a key substance our bodies produce that not only builds up resistance to bacteria and viruses but also helps you to sleep. If you don’t get enough sleep, your immune system will suffer and it will take even longer to recover from illnesses.
There’s also the risk of accidents. Being on full alert at all times depends on you having a rested body. If you’re struggling to keep your eyes open while stepping into a busy road, you are more at risk of an accident. And getting behind the wheel is an even greater risk; a study carried out in 2018 revealed that 7% of all motor vehicle crashes in the US and 16% of fatal crashes involved driver drowsiness.
One of the keys to a good night’s sleep is getting yourself settled and giving your body the chance to wind down in a good environment. A good night-time routine will help you to get settled for the eight hours ahead. One reason people struggle to get to sleep is due to the energy leftover from the day. You can burn off that energy by taking a short walk or a light jog, leaving you exhausted enough for bedtime.
If you’re feeling peckish before going to bed, steer clear of fast food and energy drinks. If you were looking for an energy boost, they wouldn’t be a problem. But taking them just before bedtime will leave you frequently waking in the middle of the night. If you want a snack before bed, consider sleep-inducing foods such as tart cherries, almonds, or cottage cheese.
You should also take a look at your mattress, blankets, and pillows. The mattress you have will dictate often how fast you fall asleep. If you suffer from chronic pain, a good mattress can alleviate those pains and ensure your sleep is undisturbed. According to Savvy Sleeper, memory foam mattresses are the ideal solution to ensuring you have a mattress that adapts to your body’s sleeping position. Since many of us sleep in different ways, having an accommodating mattress is important for our body’s comfort.
Sleep and Mental Health
Just as sleep can leave the body feeling physically ravaged, your mental health can take a negative turn as a result of poor sleeping patterns, as well. In general, poor sleep affects your mood, making you irritable and unable to focus. It can also make you forgetful to the point that even the most basic tasks escape you. If you’re in a job that requires a complicated thought-process and the occasional ‘think outside the box’ mentality, then you’ll be unable to muster the mental energy.
Studies have also shown that poor sleep can contribute to other psychological disorders, such as depression, anxiety, and bipolar. In fact, more than 50% of patients with these mental health disorders experience some form of sleep disorder, and one often exacerbates the other.
The best way to overcome these issues is to maintain a relaxed mindset. The build-up towards sleep needs to be treated as a cutting-off point from all the issues that are occupying your mind. Many people practice mindful breathing as a way of getting themselves in a healthier mood as it helps to ease tension and clear negative thoughts.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is often cited as a useful tool. People with insomnia are unable to fall asleep due to surrounding distractions. CBT can help you build up your relaxation techniques. Reports from Harvard Medical School revealed that people who use CBT to get to sleep fall asleep 20 times faster and spend 30 fewer minutes awake compared to those who don’t undertake CBT. And a good night’s sleep is but one of the many benefits of this practice as you can enjoy a healthier mindset, feel more inclined to be positive, and feel more prepared for any difficulties that arise. And of course, feel more equipped to stave off the effects of anxiety and depression.
Other Useful Tidbits
There are some other useful tidbits you can rely on to get a good night’s sleep.
Put a few hours between dinner and bedtime, so that your digestive system is not keeping you up at night. Also, despite how tempting it might be to catch half an hour nap in the back end of the afternoon, this will leave you with a fragmented sleep pattern.
Make sure you are keeping regular hours of rest. By training your body to sleep with consistent hours, you will be able to have an uninterrupted sleep cycle through the night.
You can make sure your bedroom is set at an even temperature (ideally between 60 and 67 degrees). Exposure to bright lights should be limited in the lead-up to bed, save for perhaps a small nightlight.
If you follow these tips, you will be able to get a full eight hours of sleep, enriching those hours you’re awake and living a fulfilling and enjoyable life with all the required energy.