The impact of sleep
Let’s be honest: when was the last time you woke up without an alarm clock and felt awesome? And when was the last time you made it through a whole day without feeling groggy and underslept (or without being alarmingly over-caffeinated)?
1 in 3 American adults report that they are not getting enough sleep, and as it turns out, when we don't sleep, it’s really bad for us. Sleeping less than six or seven hours a night wreaks havoc on all aspects of our wellness. Carried out over a long period of time, these negative effects are only compounded. When you are sleep deprived, you:
- Are more stressed, creating a higher risk of developing hypertension.
- Are more likely to experience weight gain.
- Have a higher risk of developing cancer.
These are only a few of the detrimental effects of losing out on sleep. The good news, though, is that when you get consistent quality sleep, you protect yourself from this damage, and you also reap the amazing, life-changing benefits of sleep. What do these look like? Well, for starters, getting great sleep:
- Encourages a healthy microbiome in our gut.
- Promotes the ideal state for our cardiovascular system.
- Acts as “overnight therapy”—soothing painful memories and inspiring creativity.
- Creates a better learning environment for our brain to memorize, remember, and make logical decisions.
The awesome thing about sleep is that it really and truly enhances every organ and function studied to date: there has yet to be a part of our physiology that has not been found to benefit from quality sleep.
Cover all your bases
If getting great sleep always seems to be just out of reach for you, you should make sure that you’re maintaining good sleep hygiene, which simply means taking steps to protect yourself from losing sleep. Here’s the list from the NIH with tips to help you get your best sleep:
- Stick to a consistent sleep schedule.
- Exercise is great for sleep, but don’t do it too late in the day, as this can prevent you from falling asleep.
- Avoid caffeine and nicotine.
- Avoid alcoholic drinks close to bedtime.
- Avoid large beverages and meals late at night.
- Don’t take naps after 3 p.m.
- Relax before bed.
- Take a hot bath before bed.
- Keep your bedroom cool, completely dark, and free of any screens such as phones, TVs, tablets, etc.
- Get the right sunlight exposure, as this will help regulate your sleeping pattern.
- Don’t lie in bed awake. If sleep doesn’t come on after lying in bed for more than 30 minutes, or you start to feel anxious or stressed, get up and do a relaxing activity in a different room, and head back to bed once you feel tired.
The mighty slumber
Sleep is infinitely more complex, profoundly more interesting, and alarmingly more relevant to our health and wellness than we could've ever predicted even a hundred years ago—and we are always learning more about it. Many health professionals are calling sleep the single-most beneficial thing we can do for preventative care. There is just nothing out there that can claim to do for your body all the things that sleep can do. Make sure to take advantage of this wonderful remedy tonight!