There is an old Irish proverb which states, “A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor’s book.” Believe it or not, that statement is not far off the mark. So go ahead and hit the snooze button in the mornings – your body can use the extra Zzzz’s.
Why We Need Sleep at All
Getting enough sleep at night is a vital part of human health. Our body needs enough sleep during the night so that we can have the energy necessary to make it through the day ahead. Sleep benefits every part of your body, from the brain in your head to the soles of your feet.
Your might think that your body is totally at rest while you sleep, but your mind continues working long after you slip off into dreamland. Sleep helps strengthen cognitive function and improve memory, which is especially important for older adults facing a condition like dementia or Alzheimer’s.
Creating Your Best Sleep Zone
However you do not have to be “old” to enjoy the benefits of getting enough sleep. From infants to elderly, everyone benefits from the rest and relaxation that comes with sleeping through the night. Here are five tips for making sure you get the most of your night after your head hits the pillow.
- Use a Bedtime – Going to bed at the same time every night helps get your body into a routine. Once you start going to bed at your designated bedtime, you will soon find yourself physically winding down and feeling sleepy around that time.
- Set an Alarm – Using a bedtime should allow you to wake up at the same time each day without an alarm. But sometimes we repeatedly hit the snooze alarm until we are late to begin our morning routine. Get up when your alarm goes off the first time every day.
- Keep the Same Schedule – When you stray from your normal routine, your body has a hard time compensating afterward. This is true whether you stay up too late watching sports on a weeknight or sleep in on weekend mornings. Keep the same schedule all week long for the best sleep.
- After Dinner Activity – The human body is prone to slowing down after eating a big meal. However exercising before bedtime can cause insomnia. Instead try some other stimulating activity, like cleaning the kitchen, or getting things ready for the next morning.
- Read Actual Books – If you like to read before bedtime, read from a hard copy of a book instead of an e-version on a digital device. The backlit display decreases the amount of melatonin that our bodies need to regulate sleep patterns.
- Sleep in the Dark – Keep your room as dark as you can for the best quality sleep. Use heavy curtains and turn off all electronics in your bedroom. If possible, keep your laptop, cellphone, iPad, and other devices with a backlit display in another room completely.
- Use White Noise – White noise, like the muted sounds of city traffic or the rain falling outside, can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep once your body reaches that state. White noise machines are fairly inexpensive and worth the investment.
- Turn Down the Heat – There is a reason why a lot of people prefer the cool side of a pillow when they lay down their head at night. Turning the heat down in your bedroom by a mere five degrees allows you to sleep better than if the room is too warm.
- Replace Your Mattress – If you are not sleeping well then the problem could be your mattress. Talk to your doctor about what mattress is best for your health in regards to spine health, allergens, and overall quality of sleep.
It is not uncommon to hear about people who “fight sleep”, whether it is a child at naptime or humans of any age at bedtime. According to the National Sleep Foundation, humans are the only mammals that delay sleep on purpose.
However avoiding sleep is the last thing we humans should do. Staying up past your bedtime only risks having you wake up grouchy the next day. If you get a good night’s sleep, on the other hand, then you can wake up refreshed and ready to tackle any task while at peak performance.
Carol Newman has one goal in life – helping other women live the healthiest lifestyle possible. She frequently shares tips while hosting the BioGirl Health Show as well as on her website, www.biogirlhealth.com. Carol finds that putting clean, organic things into her body via the foods she eats results in having more energy, sleeping better, and being healthier overall.