Sleep is great for our body function. It helps to repair muscle tissues, improves how the brain processes information and also restores energy.
In our fast-paced world, meeting expectations, deadlines, and everything else we have set out for ourselves. It can become a struggle to get adequate quality sleep or try few sleep tips.
The Fact is, sleep is not a luxury but a necessity because it is very crucial to our mental and physical well being just as food and water.
Impact of Poor Quality Sleep
When we don't get enough sleep, what happens is sleep deprivation, which can result in a lot of physical and mental issues.
You'll notice the effect on:
- Your focus,
- Productivity and Relationship (work and personal)
Sleep deprivation or sleep loss can cause inflammation throughout your body which results in tissue damage. Long term effects of inflammation leads to some chronic health issues like IBD (Inflammatory bowel disease).
Research has shown that chronic sleep deprivation increases the risk of chronic health conditions such as obesity, depression, cardiovascular diseases, and diabetes.
And when you are sleep deprived, your immune system also struggles to fight off infections and diseases.
So the question now is:
How much sleep do you need?
I'll go into the recommendation from the National Sleep Foundation; They have a panel of professionals who do in-depth research on how the duration of sleep from newborn to older adults.
Below is their most recent updated Recommendations:
- Newborns (0-3 months): Sleep range narrowed to 14-17 hours each day (previously it was 12-18)
- Infants (4-11 months): Sleep range widened two hours to 12-15 hours (previously it was 14-15)
- Toddlers (1-2 years): Sleep range widened by one hour to 11-14 hours (previously it was 12-14)
- Preschoolers (3-5): Sleep range widened by one hour to 10-13 hours (previously it was 11-13)
- School-age children (6-13): Sleep range widened by one hour to 9-11 hours (previously it was 10-11)
- Teenagers (14-17): Sleep range widened by one hour to 8-10 hours (previously it was 8.5-9.5)
- Younger adults (18-25): Sleep range is 7-9 hours (new age category)
- Adults (26-64): Sleep range did not change and remains 7-9 hours
- Older adults (65+): Sleep range is 7-8 hours (new age category)
It's important to note that the quality of sleep you get while asleep is a contributing factor in how much sleep you need each night.
So, those who get quality sleep without waking up may require a little less sleep than people with frequent interrupted sleep or struggle with staying asleep.
Genetics also have a role to play in how well our bodies respond to sleep deprivation.
Sleep Tips for a good quality sleep
Create a sleep routine
Some people go to bed when they feel like it is time to zzzz or when they are ready to. And that in itself isn't something that works fine with our body.
The Body Loves Rhythm, the body clock understands rhythm, and you want the clock to understand you, and for that to happen you need to create routines, set a time for bedtime and when to wake up.
And of course, just as anything creating a new habit, something new for your body to adjust to. It's going to require some level of commitment, but if you can do this try these sleep tips, your body would get the message, and it will respond to the new routine.
Put your Phone and Gadget to sleep an hour before your bedtime.
For you to wind down properly for bedtime, you want to switch off your phones, iPad, and other gadgets you use, an hour before sleep. Get them their Sleep station if possible. This is part of the routine mentioned earlier.
The bright lights from your phone stimulate the brain and makes it very difficult to settle down to sleep.
Stop Taking Caffeine
Caffeine are stimulants, and they have a direct impact on the quality of sleep you can get.
Now, if you struggle a lot with falling asleep, or you wake up quite often, cutting out caffeine is essential.
So, there are some foods and beverages that contain caffeine, that you might not be aware of. And it would be advisable for you to try not to take those kinds of foods after midday,
Examples of foods that contain caffeine,
- soft drinks
- chocolates and
Cut out Nightcap
Now, if you enjoy winding down with wine while watching your TV before bed, it's time to let go of that 'habit'. This is because alcohol messes up your natural sleep patterns and brainwaves.
Even if you can sleep all through the night, you typically won't wake up feeling well-rested.
You will realise that it will affect the quality of your productivity and energy levels.
Sleep Treatments for a good quality sleep
We've checked out some sleep tips. Now let's look at sleep treatments.
With short sleep issues, you probably do not need a doctor, what you do need is some lifestyle modifications and maybe some over the counter supplements.
However, if you have chronic sleep issues, you should talk to a doctor to get some treatment plan.
The type of treatment you get can be dependent on different factors like causes of your sleep disturbances to what you experience when you're going through it, and how long you've been going through it.
Just as the Short term sleep treatment, chronic sleep treatment also involves lifestyle modifications with your doctor's treatment plan. And if it's more serious, then the doctor could suggest you need some surgery.
Natural sleep aids.
I know some people would go for sleeping pills. And if that works for you or your doctors recommend it, fine. I usually would gravitate towards the natural approach.
Natural sleep treatment include
- Valerian, which is extracted from a plant, and it is sold as a dietary supplement, research into its effects on insomnia isn't conclusive, but people have reported it helps them.
- Lavender, is one that I love, is used in aromatherapy, and is an extract of a purple flower and may be used as a supplement as well.
- Melatonin: This is the hormone that helps to regulate our body's sleep-wake cycle. It is available as a dietary supplement. Natural approaches to also support your Melatonin production is sleeping sleep in a dark, cool room.
If you've struggled to sleep, sometimes it is always best to talk about it. This where therapists would come in very, very handy.
Feel free to open up to your therapist, and both of you can work together to get to the root of whatever is going on. So you can address the things that probably are preventing you from getting a quality restful sleep.
Essential oils are great because they are natural. Some of them have been shown to improve sleep.
Example of such are
- Calgary sage oil
- Sleep Blends: Most of these blends incorporate oils with relaxing properties like chamomile, lavender, and spruce to promote sleep.
In this blog post, I mentioned that one of the things you can do is to allow yourself to be guided.
Allowing somebody to guide you works well and beautifully. And that's where guided meditation comes in. I use the balance app, and so far I haven't experienced any woo woo situation, but if I do definitely, I'll stop using it.
What you will realise, when you go through a guided meditation is that you're relaxed and you calm your mind down. And when the mind is calm, it settles down to sleep better. A relaxed mind can come up with creative thoughts and be more productive.
There are so many ways you can access guided meditation, from therapists and trained practitioners and some apps. I just mentioned the balance app. so do some more research if interested.
To drive in the importance of sleep, I want to highlight the benefits of getting good quality sleep.
As mentioned earlier, when you have short term sleep issues, you will most likely experience fatigue, lack of concentration and mood swings.
In the long run, If your short term sleep issues are not addressed, it could become a chronic health issue. Here are some sleep benefits:
Increased productivity and focus
When you sleep very well, you become more productive because you wake up with a fresh clear mind and that will rub off on your productivity throughout the day.
Also, you have more retention, concentration, which improves your performance than someone with limited sleep.
Reduces the risk of stroke and heart attack.
When you have frequent nights of poor sleep, the long term effect leads to cardiovascular problems such as stroke, high blood pressure, heart disease. So, the best thing to do is, tackle it right now. Don't leave it to linger, so that you don't suffer for it in the near future.
Decreased chances of depression, anxiety, and mental issues
Research has shown that people with depression do have poor quality sleep. So as much as possible, take the suggestion in this article and if you must see a doctor. Do so, asap.
The quality of sleep we get is dependent on so many factors, but one thing we can agree on is that we need to work on getting the required number of hours of sleep for ourselves every day.
We're doing ourselves a lot of good when we sleep.
For some people, all they need to do is just to get their head on the pillow, and they're already asleep. For others like me, it takes them time. And one of the things that has worked for me, and is working for me right now, is guided meditation.
One thing you need to realise is, If you do not address a poor quality sleep pattern now it will, in the long run, hurt your body.
I admit that you want to push yourself to achieve as much as possible daily, but it's time to draw some boundaries around your sleep. You deserve a good sleep.
Let me know what you think in the comment section.