When considering the most important part of your week, you likely won’t think of the time you’re unconsciously drifting in La La Land, but quality sleep is foundational to a vibrant, healthy lifestyle. Whether you’re a light sleeper or a deeper sleeper, getting enough shut-eye impacts you physically, mentally and emotionally, so get to bed on time!
What Are the Physical Benefits of Sleep?
Sleep time is recovery time for your body. As you slumber the body enters an anabolic state that promotes repair and growth. Your brain signals the body to release hormones, including human growth hormone, which promotes the growth, maintenance and repair of muscles and bones.
Other hormones released during sleep decrease your risk of certain health conditions. Getting at least five hours of sleep each night can reduce your risk of high blood pressure. Sleep also affects your body’s ability to release insulin, the hormone responsible for maintaining healthy blood sugar levels. And getting enough rest at night primes our immune defenses.
Deep sleep really is beauty sleep, as the skin’s metabolic rate increases during this period while the breakdown of proteins is reduced. Healthy sleep habits also help maintain healthy weight. Your brain tells your body it’s hungry when you’re sleep-deprived, which can result in overeating.
What Are the Mental Benefits of Sleep?
Sufficient sleep each night encourages better short- and long-term memory. During sleep, your brain works to form connections that help you process and remember new information. Additionally, poor sleep can reduce your ability to concentrate, think creatively and engage in problem solving activities. These essential skills just aren’t up to snuff if you’re tired.
What Are the Emotional Benefits of Sleep?
Lack of sleep can result in moodiness and short-tempered outbursts. Chronic sleep deprivation can have a more drastic impact, resulting in anxiety and depression. Studies have shown that those who sleep seven to eight hours a night tend to be happier, less stressed and easier to be around.
How Long Should You Sleep?
Seven to eight hours each night is the sweet spot for the average adult. While you want to make sure you get enough sleep, too much snoozing can cause problems, too.
Researchers from the United Kingdom and Italy found that those who slept for fewer than six hours a night were 12% more likely to experience a premature death. Those who slept for more than eight or nine hours a night, however, more than doubled their risk to 30%!
Another interesting thing about sleep? You really can’t make up for poor nightly sleep. Dozing, power naps, and afternoon siestas just don’t give your body the rest and recovery it needs. Nothing beats a good night’s rest.
What’s the Best Time to Sleep?
Early to bed, early to rise, right? While getting to sleep early can certainly help achieve healthier sleep, sometimes your schedule doesn’t line up with the sun. The best time for you to sleep may be different from your neighbor.
Finding your proper bedtime comes down to knowing when you need to get up. Take whatever time you’re going to wake up and count back seven to eight hours and that’s your ideal bedtime.
Also, your body is hardwired to sleep when it’s dark, which is why those who work swing and graveyard shifts may have trouble sleeping. Consistency in your sleep patterns, however, can help overcome this and make just about any time your best time to sleep.
What If You Can’t Fall Asleep?
We all have nights when we just can’t sleep or even a string of nights where going to bed is tougher than it sounds. Here are some options when those nights come.
Don’t just lay in bed counting sheep if you can’t sleep. Get up and do something moderately active but repetitive like sweeping the floor, reading a book or folding clothes. Don’t pull out the electronics. Phones, tablets and computer screens stimulate your brain in such a way that it can make it difficult to fall asleep.
Foods to Avoid for Better Sleep
Sometimes better sleep comes down to what you eat or drink. For a deeper sleep, avoid these foods as you’re going to bed.
Anything with Caffeine
Coffee and other caffeinated drinks are great in the morning to make you more alert but can work against you if you’re trying to get to sleep.
It’s a quick and easy snack before bed, but a bowl of cereal will often spike blood sugar levels that can mess with your ability to sleep well.
Spicy or acidic foods
While they may tantalize your taste buds, they can wreak havoc on your stomach, making it harder both to get to sleep and stay that way.
Moderation is key here. A glass of wine before bed may help you relax, but heavy drinking can make your sleep worse…and you’ll likely need to hit the bathroom in the middle of the night.
Natural Sleep Aids
Sometimes you need a little extra help to get to sleep, but that doesn’t mean you need a prescription. Try natural sleep aids from Nature’s Sunshine for a better, more restful night’s sleep.
Lavender Essential Oil
The rich, relaxing aroma of essential oils can put your mind at ease and prime your body for sleep. Lavender essential oil is a go-to fragrance for many seeking better sleep.
Melatonin influences your body’s sleep patterns and helps manage your body’s internal clock. As we age, our bodies make less of it, which can affect sleep quality.
An exclusive, all-botanical blend of passionflower, valerian root and hops flowers, Herbal Sleep supports healthy nervous system function and promotes restful sleep.
What Are Common Sleep Challenges?
Sometimes it’s more than just a rough day that keeps us up at night. Fortunately, there’s help out there, but the first step to getting better is recognizing you have a problem.
Do I Have Insomnia?
By far the most common sleep disorder, occasional insomnia affects about half of all people. While it’s normal to have a bad night’s sleep here and there, if you regularly have difficulty getting to sleep or are waking in the middle of the night and can’t sleep again, talk with a doctor to see what you can do. About 10% of Americans report experiencing chronic insomnia.
Do I Have Sleep Apnea?
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) occurs when relaxed tissues in the respiratory tract block airways to prevent normal breathing. While partial blockages cause snoring, full blockages essentially suffocate the sleeper, and the brain reacts to this by awakening the sleeper.
When this occurs frequently throughout the night, the individual never really enters the deeper, restorative phases of sleep. Fortunately, constant positive air pressure (CPAP) machines offer a relatively simple remedy for this issue.
Do I Have Restless Leg Syndrome?
About 10% of adults experience some degree of restless leg syndrome, which is characterized by an overwhelming need to move one’s legs to relieve abnormal, uncomfortable sensations. While actually a neurological disorder, restless leg is classified as a sleep disorder as it often prevents sufferers from maintaining healthy sleep patterns.