The fast pace of modern life sometimes makes it difficult to stop and rest. It can make getting a good night’s sleep on a consistent basis seem impossible. However, sleep is just as important for health as diet and exercise. A good night’s sleep improves brain performance, mood, and health. Not getting enough quality sleep on a regular basis increases the risk of a variety of diseases and disorders. These include everything from heart disease and stroke to obesity and dementia.
It takes more than just lying in bed to get a good night’s sleep. Healthy sleep is comprised of three major components: the amount of sleep you get, the amount of uninterrupted and refreshing sleep you get, and the ability to maintain a consistent sleep schedule.
People who work the night shift or have irregular schedules may find it difficult to get enough sleep. And times of extreme stress can disrupt our normal sleeping patterns. However, there are numerous things you can do to improve your sleep.
Sleep For Repair
Why do we require sleep? People frequently believe that sleep is simply “down time” during which a tired brain can rest. That, however, is incorrect. Your brain is working while you sleep. Sleep, for example, helps your brain prepare to learn, remember, and create.
The brain completely changes function when we sleep. It functions almost like a kidney, removing waste from the body. Sleep serves as a time for repair for everything from blood vessels to the immune system. Certain repair processes in the body occur primarily or most effectively during sleep. Those processes will be disrupted if you do not get enough sleep.
Myths vs Truths
The amount of sleep you require varies with age. Experts recommend that school-aged children get at least nine hours of sleep per night, and teenagers get between eight and ten. Most adults require at least seven hours of sleep per night.
There are numerous misconceptions about sleep. One is that adults require less sleep as they age. This is not correct. The same amount is required for older adults. However, sleep quality can deteriorate as you age. Older adults are also more likely to take sleep-disrupting medications.
Another common misconception about sleep is that you can “catch up” on your days off. Researchers are discovering that this is not the case in most cases. If you have one bad night’s sleep and then take a nap or sleep longer the next night, you will be better off. But if you’ve been sleeping too little for a week, the weekend won’t be enough to catch up. That is not a healthy way to live.
On the other hand, getting more sleep isn’t always a good thing. If you’re sleeping more than nine hours a night and still don’t feel refreshed, there could be an underlying medical problem.
Some people have conditions that make it impossible for them to get enough quality sleep, no matter how hard they try. These issues are referred to as sleep disorders.
Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder. Insomnia occurs when you have difficulty falling and/or staying asleep on a regular basis. This occurs despite having enough time to sleep and a comfortable sleeping environment. During the day, it can make you feel tired or unrested. Short-term insomnia occurs when people struggle to sleep for a few weeks or months. Long-term insomnia can last three months or more.
Another common sleep disorder is sleep apnea. The upper airway becomes blocked during sleep in sleep apnea. This reduces or stops airflow, causing people to wake up during the night. The condition is potentially hazardous. If left untreated, it can lead to other health issues.
Consult your doctor if you have trouble sleeping on a regular basis. They may ask you to keep a sleep diary for several weeks to track your sleep. They can also perform tests such as sleep studies. These are used to detect sleep disorders.
Hearing how important it is may be frustrating if you’re having trouble sleeping. Simple things, on the other hand, can improve your chances of getting a good night’s sleep. To get a better night’s sleep, try these tips:
- Maintain a consistent sleep schedule. Every day, even on weekends, go to bed and wake up at the same time.
- Get some exercise every day. But not close to bedtime.
- Go outside. Try to get natural sunlight for at least 30 minutes every day.
- Nicotine and caffeine should be avoided. Both of these substances are stimulants that keep you awake. Caffeine can take 6–8 hours to completely wear off.
- Don’t take naps after mid-afternoon. And keep them short.
- Avoid alcohol and heavy meals before going to bed. Both can interfere with deep, restorative sleep.
- Limit your use of electronics before going to bed. Instead, try reading a book, listening to soothing music, or engaging in another relaxing activity.
- Make a comfortable sleeping environment. If at all possible, keep the temperature low. Remove all noise and light, distractions. Make it dark. Silence your cell phone.
- Don’t lie awake in bed. If you still can’t sleep after 20 minutes, get up and do something relaxing until you feel sleepy again.
- If nothing you try helps, consult your doctor. They will be able to determine whether you require additional testing. They can also assist you in learning new stress-management techniques.
Many common sleep disorders have treatments available. Many people who suffer from insomnia can benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy. Some people can benefit from medications as well. Make sleep a priority for everyone as much as possible. Sleep is not a luxury; it is a biological requirement.