Top Tips for Getting Great Sleep
by Amanda Lasater, mattressadvisor.com
It is not always easy to get the right amount of sleep – binge watching a favorite series, obligations to friends and family or tight work deadlines can cause us to de-prioritize sleep or find it difficult to fall asleep when we do turn in for the night. However, most of us would agree that good health is a worthy aim and maintaining good physical and mental health means making sleep a priority. Below are several ways to help you get a better night’s sleep this year.
Why is Sleep Important?
The amount and quality of sleep we get each night has a direct impact on our physical, mental and emotional health. While we slumber, our brain is directing repairs throughout our body, processing things we have learned during the day and putting our experiences into long term memory. A range of chemicals and hormones are produced to carry out repairs on damaged cells, boost our immune system and regulate our emotional response to various experiences throughout our days.
The two major phases of sleep – NREM and REM sleep – must be cycled through several times each night for our bodies and minds to receive the full restorative and reviving effects that sleep imparts. NREM is when our brain directs the physical restoration of muscles, cells and normal functioning of our immune system. REM sleep is the time allocated for mental and emotional health – emotions and things we have learnt during wakeful hours are consolidated and stored for future access and use. REM is considered vital for learning as this is when stimulation of the brain’s regions for learning and developing new skills takes place.
How You Can Get Better Sleep
Sticking to a regular sleep and wake time schedule can help to stabilize your circadian rhythms. Circadian rhythms or our internal body-clock influences our appetite, as well as when we feel sleepy and naturally wake up. We can further influence them by ensuring we have plenty of sunlight through the day and minimizing our exposure to blue light from TVs, smartphones, computers and other electronic devices in the evening.
Bedtime routines are not just for children. Taking the time to relax and unwind before bed can help our minds and bodies get in the mood for a good night’s sleep. Consider a protein-rich and low-sugar bedtime snack that will boost melatonin and tryptophan levels. These hormones help us to rest well and wake feeling refreshed. A warm bath and exercise before bed can also help you to fall asleep, as long as you take them no less than an hour before hitting the hay. Including mindfulness practices or meditation before sleep helps to relax our minds and make it easier to drift off. Incorporate as many or as few of these practices each evening to tailor a bedtime routine to your specific needs.
If you suffer from insomnia, sleep apnea or pain that makes it difficult to sleep, acupuncture may help. The practice of placing needles along specific points of the qi pathways has been shown to naturally stimulate the body’s pain relief functions and blood flow. This is because the same neurotransmitters that get stimulated by acupuncture for pain also help relax the mind and body. So, the next time you are in desperate need of a good night’s sleep, make an appointment with your local licensed acupuncturist to help give you the extra boost of relaxation needed to make it happen.
Ditch the daytime naps. When you don’t sleep well at night, it is tempting to take a nap during the day. Unfortunately, napping for more than 30 minutes during the day can exacerbate the issue, throwing our circadian rhythm out and causing us to have a disrupted sleep the following night. To improve your sleep at night, refrain from napping during the day.
Getting enough sleep each night is just as important to our health as eating the right foods, exercising and keeping hydrated. Make sure you get better sleep this year by implementing some or all of the tips noted above and you’ll enjoy better health and happiness too.