Why You Really Do Need to Sleep 8 Hours Every Night
Life can get hectic pretty quickly, and it’s all too easy to stay up late trying to get just a few more things done when, in truth, you should be soundly snoozing. Sleep is when your body has a chance to recharge, heal, and regain balance. And, considering that it takes less than a week for not getting enough sleep to catch up with you, every night counts.
What Happens During Sleep
Sleep is largely comprised of four stages. The first two are where you spend the majority of your time, and they are considered to be the lightest sleep cycles with the least amount of activity going on in your body. Once you enter the third stage, however, you are considered to be in deep sleep. You will go in and out of these four stages in cycles throughout the night. Here are some of the things that happen during the two stages of deep sleep:
- Your body increases blood supply to its muscles to help boost tissue repair and growth
- Overall healing processes of damage and strain steps up
- Hormones are released to help bring balance and restore systems
- Long term memories are stored away
- Your brain becomes energized and active, preparing itself for the upcoming day
Strategies for Better Sleep
If you have come to appreciate just how important sleep is to your overall health and well being, you may be wondering how to improve your own sleeping habits. Here are some simple strategies that may help.
Darken the Room
You are more likely to enter deep sleep, where the really important stuff happens, if you eliminate any unnecessary light from your space. Try adding blackout curtains and remove electronics that have standby lights. If that won’t work, it can be worth it to purchase an eye mask to block out intrusions.
Update Your Bed
Mattresses generally need to be replaced every ten years, so you may be well past due for a new one. There are so many great options on the market today that you don’t really have an excuse to sleep on an uncomfortable bed. If you have trouble sleeping, a natural latex mattress will offer excellent support and comfort that could help.
Say No to Afternoon Coffee
It can be really tough, but try not to indulge in high-caffeine drinks in the late afternoon or evening. Give yourself at least six hours to let the effects of any caffeine run its course in your system before bedtime for the best chances of falling asleep quickly.
Turn Off Your Tech
If it puts out blue light, try to avoid it for the hour or so before you turn in. This is your cell phone, TV, computer, and tablet. Pick up a book and leaf through the pages instead
Lower the Temperature
Go ahead and turn the thermostat a couple of degrees lower. This may help you get better quality sleep. Temperature is most likely to affect REM sleep when the body’s own temperature regulation is nearly turned off.
Adding some physical activity to each day can help you fall asleep faster, and stay asleep longer. Just don’t schedule aerobic activity right before bedtime since it can have a stimulating effect. Think about adding 15 or 20 minutes of cardio first thing in the morning as a quick energy booster and then doing a brief stretching or meditation session before bed to relax and unwind.
Know When to Get Help
You can try everything on this list and still struggle with sleep. Give yourself permission to seek help if you are not getting enough sleep. Talk to your doctor about options that may help. Sleep is too important a part of your day to skip it, and you deserve a good night’s rest.