Here’s something for you to chew on – Humans are the only known mammal that delays sleep.
We all know that sleep is important, but do we really know what impact does chronic sleep deprivation have on our body? For example, did you know that if you are sleep deficient then all those hours spend in the gym or the strict diet you are following might actually be a wasted effort?
Sleep gives your body the chance to recover and repair muscles; it also helps release a number of hormones that keep your body ticking daily and helps your muscle become stronger. But we are increasingly becoming a sleep deprived nation and the consequences are really worrying.
Sleep deprivation is a public health problem
When we're falling behind in any area of our lives, sleep is often the first sacrifice we make. According to the statistics, more than one-third of Brits don't get enough sleep and this impacts woman more than men. It has officially become a public health problem.
Lack of sleep is making us fat, sick, inflamed, and hormonally imbalanced. Sleep deprivation can be as bad to us overconsuming alcohol, overeating and not exercising. And as much as we like to think that we can get our energy with the power of smoothies and yoga, nothing truly compares to the power of good sleep. Long-term sleep deprivation can lead to increased risk of diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and stroke. Yikes!
The reasons we're sleep deprived are as numerous and diverse as we are, but most can be traced back to a few common themes: anxiety, overwork, distraction, clinical insomnia, hormonal imbalance, life events like becoming new parents, excessive use of electronic devices or a combination of these.
Please tell me this can be fixed !
The short answer is YES, it can be fixed and it seems like we are finally waking up (no pun intended) to the importance of sleep !! How to optimize one’s sleep has become one of the most searched topics on Google in 2018.
Unfortunately, after years of bad sleep hygiene, many people now have trouble finding the deep, restorative rest their bodies crave. We are turning to new sleep optimization technologies, relaxation apps and sleep trackers. While this helps, understanding the deep rooted reasons for disturbed sleep or chronic insomnia is the only way to have long term improvement.
While there might be underlying clinical reasons for chronic insomnia, you can take some simple steps to improve the quality of your sleep. Start with these few simple steps
- Turn Your Bedroom into a Sleep-Inducing Environment – Use heavy curtains, blackout shades or an eye mask to block light. Keep the temperature comfortably cool it will make you sleep more soundly. And most importantly, invest in a comfortable mattress and pillows. Trust me this is money well spent.
- Remove all distraction inducing instruments away from your bedroom. Using a phone or laptop before bed is perhaps the most common reason for a disturbed night of sleep. The blue light emanating from these devices are known to keep your brain active well after you have stopped using them.
- Establish Soothing Bedtime Routine – Take a bath, read or practice relaxation exercises. Avoid stressful and stimulating activities at least one hour before your bedtime as the stress hormone cortisol will only increase your alertness. If you are like me and struggle to find that switch off button of your brain, then try writing your thoughts down. It is believed to help one sleep better.
- Go to sleep when you are truly tired – This sounds obvious, but remember, humans are the only mammals that actually delays sleep !! So it has to be said - When you are tired, rest, and resist the temptation to keep going by downing one more cup of coffee !
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bedtime – We all know that we should avoid caffeine in the evening, but not many people know that alcohol acts as a stimulant too decreasing the quality of your sleep.
Along with a healthy diet, training yourself to sleep better might be one of the best things you can do for your health. So sleep well and keep on dreaming, dreamers!