Getting adequate sleep every night is a vital practice if we want to have better overall health and be at our best.
The subject of sleep has becoming quite popular in recent times with books such as The Sleep Revolution by Arianna Huffington and Sleep Smarter by Shawn Stevenson shedding new light on why sleep is so important for us.
Arianna Huffington also gave a TED talk on the subject, which now has had over four million views.
The costs of not getting enough sleep or sleep deprivation is becoming widely known as more studies are done on the subject. Some of these costs, especially to our health, include:
- Anger and irritability.
The old belief or saying, “If you snooze, you lose” is being questioned because all the research is now suggesting that we cannot be at our best if we’re not getting enough sleep each night.
The challenge most of us face, especially living such busy lives, is that we have not made sleep a priority. Whenever we have things going on that require our immediate attention, one thing that is often compromised is our sleep, which in turn, will have other effects on our health.
If we want to live a healthier, better quality life, we must make sleep just as important as eating healthy and exercising regularly.
7 Strategies for Improving Your Sleep
- Make sleep a priority by getting committed. Like any other outcome we want to achieve in life, being committed to achieving it, is an important part. Installing a new habit will require focus, dedication and commitment, and there will be times when we’ll be tempted to go back to our old habits. We have to really believe that the benefits of getting better sleep will support us in many ways.
- Create a “Before Bed” routine. Examples of things we can include in this routine include no television at least thirty minutes before bed, do not use any devices before bed which eliminates being exposed to blue light, read a physical book or meditate prior to bed. We have to find what works for us. The key is to prepare our mind and body to start winding down a certain time before sleeping.
- Get physically healthier. The healthier we are, the more oxygen we will require, which will support better quality sleep at night. Whether we exercise in the morning or afternoon is not as important as ensuring we actually do some form of physical activity daily so that we can get better quality sleep each night.
- Eat foods that aid better sleep. Certain foods can aid our sleep and these include almonds, walnuts, lettuce and tuna. Before making any dramatic changes to our diet, we should always consult with a medical professional who can provide advice based on our personal situation.
- Reduce or eliminate alcohol consumption. While alcohol can make us fall asleep faster, it does affect our sleep cycles. When our sleep cycle is affected, it means we are not getting continuous sleep so we can wake up feeling as though we’ve hardly had any sleep at all. Alcohol has very little benefit to our overall physical and mental health, and should be avoided as much as possible.
- Take supplements, if necessary. There are many supplements that can be taken to improve our health and wellness. We should always get proper medical advice before taking them. Taking vitamin-based supplements which we are deficient in can give our health a huge boost, which in turn, can lead to better sleep. We should get health checks regularly, which can inform us on what we need to do to improve in areas we are not doing so well.
- Eliminate as much light from your bedroom. We should aim to have our bedroom as dark as possible. This is something I’ve recently done as the LED light from my bedside alarm clock was affecting my sleep quality. Other suggestions may include adding dark curtains on windows to block out any unnatural light. The darker the room, the better sleep we’ll have.
If we pay more attention to things we can do before going to bed, we will improve the quality of our sleep. As we start getting better sleep, we will feel so much better and function with greater levels of clarity and focus each day. The key is to make sleep just as important as anything we do daily.
Question: What can be another new habit we can install to improve our sleep quality?
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