We all know someone who can get by on just a few hours of sleep each night. For most of us, though, we struggle to fit in all of our work & family responsibilities, fitness endeavors, playtime and other activities. In my office, I work with people whose health is heavily impacted by getting too little sleep. I know that for myself, I often wish for an extra hour (or 24!) on occasion.
The health benefits of getting enough sleep are overwhelming. There are profound physiological benefits for our bodies receive when we get enough sleep. These include improvements in all aspects of health, including injury & wound repair, mood regulation, blood sugar regulation, cardiovascular health, stress management, and others. The following tips are some of the basics I keep in mind in the effort of cleaning up my own sleep habits. I hope they benefit you, as well!
Keep a routine: Aim to go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day including weekends.
Give yourself enough time: Most recommendations I’ve seen are between 7-9 hours for adults. Athletes must plan to increase sleeping time to meet the demands of their training efforts.
Remove the distractions: Limit media and electronics in the hours before sleep, especially in bed.
Create a sanctuary for sleep: Keep the environment quiet, cool, and dark.
Improve dietary habits: Limit caffeine intake after lunchtime and make sure you don’t eat or drink alcohol too close to bedtime.
Focus on the calm: Pick up new habits like drinking a cup of chamomile tea, soaking in a warm bath, stretching, or doing breathing exercises and meditation. You can also listen to relaxing music.
Seek help: If you have a sleep disorder such as insomnia, anxiety, or sleep apnea seek professional attention. The benefits will be worth it.
I’d be the first to tell you that my sleep habits are not a model of perfection. Instead, they are a work in progress. I run my own business, I enjoy quality family time, and I love being on my bicycle, among many other things, and many times, the day and night mix themselves up in order to get everything done. The value of my sleep, ultimately, is an important part of making sure I can keep doing those things. Here’s to a good night’s sleep!!