Ahhhhhh… Time for bed. Time to unwind, get comfy, close the eyes, and drift off into peaceful slumber. Or is it?
Many of us don’t get the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep regularly.
The importance or regular, adequate, and quality sleep cannot be emphasized enough. Not sleeping enough can have negative effects that go beyond needing an extra cup of coffee, being grumpy, and craving a nap. Inadequate sleep can increase or lead to pain, depression, anxiety, physical stress, and mental health concerns.
Sleep quality and even our ability to fall asleep can be affected by many factors. Life stress, worry, thoughts just spinning in the mind can make sleeping difficult. Pain or discomfort may also delay or interrupt sleep. There may be many factors that interfere with our ability to sleep. Many of those may be out of our immediate control. However, there are many factors that are within our control. Making a few good choices daily may greatly improve your overall quality of sleep and health.
Our sleep cycles are linked to both our behaviors and our natural circadian rhythms. Circadian rhythms are, basically put, our natural body rhythms. They are affected internally by the hypothalamus in the brain, hormone cycles, light-dark cycles, and other factors. External behaviors that can affect circadian rhythms and sleep include our exposure to electronic blue light that is emitted by our electronic devices, caffeine late in the day, thought patterns, life stresses.
Some examples of how to improve your quality of sleep from the National Sleep Foundation:
- Limit daytime napping
- Avoid stimulants close to bedtime e.g. caffeine, nicotine
- Exposure to natural light during the day
- Create a relaxing bedtime routine perhaps including a warm shower or bath, gentle stretches, a book, avoid distressing conversation or thoughts as able
Try to aim for 7-8 hours or deep quality sleep tonight as you head into the week.