No matter how well we manage our lives to include exercise and a healthy diet, if we’re not getting enough sleep then we’re missing out on a vital bodily function which is as necessary as breathing, eating or drinking.
Sleep is Vital for Life
Sleep is one of the most important activities in our lives, yet it has become the norm that having trouble sleeping is just the way things are. While the body can do without food or water for days and weeks, the effects of sleep deprivation are evident in as little as 24 hours! Sleep is important for the regeneration of cells, healing and recovery of your brain after a busy day.
Without sleep, we quickly become unable to function, with cloudy brains, memory loss, slower movements, irritability, and duller reflexes all of which are dangerous. Considering in our daily lives how many simple activities we participate in such as driving or cooking which require concentration to avoid accidents the effects of sleep deprivation can be dangerous.
How Much Sleep Do I Need?
The average adult should aim for at least 7 hours of good quality sleep per day. During these 7 hours, the brain will cycle through two different stages of sleep multiple times:
- NREM is the resting stage where your brain and body simply rest. There is no dreaming in this stage
- REM is the ‘deep’ stage of sleeping. Your eyes will move rapidly beneath your eyelids (hence Rapid Eye Movement) and in this stage of sleep your dreams will occur.
How to Overcome Sleep Troubles
Some simple steps can help you to get a better nights rest, ensuring you wake up refreshed and ready for a new day:
- Create a sleep routine – Take a bath, dim the lights, listen to relaxing music and prepare your body for bed. We can’t expect to go to sleep if we go from bright lights and activities to bed without winding down!
- Put down the devices – Even with blue light filters, using devices just before bed is distracting and can hinder sleep. Whether seeing an alert for an email from a client, or seeing a topic on social media being discussed that you’re passionate about, it’s easy to get back into work mode when you’re using your device! At least an hour before bed swap your device for a book or meditation to switch off from the world
- Keep a diary – One of the biggest problems that causes sleeplessness is lying awake worrying. By keeping a diary, you can focus your worries in one place and build an action plan for them. Then, once you’ve closed that diary, you can commit to not thinking about them, until the next time it’s time to write!
- Don’t lie in bed if you can’t sleep – if you really can’t sleep, don’t lie in bed stressing that you can’t sleep. Instead, get up and try a relaxing activity to get your body back into sleep mode
- Stay away from caffeine, alcohol, sugar and fat – consuming any of these things just before bed can upset your sleep cycle and leads to a restless sleep
Keep a record of your sleep, if you find that no matter what you try you’re still not getting a good night’s rest, then it may be time to consult a doctor. Sleep apnea, chronic pain, or allergies will affect the quantity and quality of your sleep. Consult your doctor to further investigate and resolve these underlying issues.