I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a night owl. I come alive at night - the air is clean, the streets are quiet and the bugs make lovely, relaxing chirping noises that lull me into a more relaxed state that I could hope for during the hustle and bustle of daytime. My average bedtime is 3:00am, and I generally sleep until around 10 unless I have commitments scheduled before then, which is common. I wake up drowsy and completely aware that I need more sleep, but when night falls again, I wake up, get a second wind, am productive and sleep is the last thing I want to do.
Until recently, I just accepted that I needed a cup of coffee to get me going every day, and I have become accustomed to feeling a little sluggish until the caffeine kicks in. That’s really healthy, right? No! A fun article on HuffingtonPost.com caught my attention the other morning and it was all quotes about sleep. “You snooze you lose”, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead”....you get the idea. And then I realized that these quotes aren’t as comical when I think back to all I have read and ignored about the negative effects of sleep deprivation. I began researching...and what I’ve decided is that I absolutely must clean up my sleep pattern for the sake of my health, my job and my future.
I’m sure many people are with me when they think an hour less of sleep equals an hour more productivity...and we’re all wrong. Recent research suggests that even skipping a small amount of sleep can negatively affect health, mood, cognitive capacity and productivity. I may be waking up an hour earlier or going to sleep an hour later so I can get the laundry done, but as a result, I’m sluggish and probably taking an hour longer to complete another task, like, say...writing this blog! My concentration isn’t where it should be, I’m making typing errors all over the place and I’m certainly not retaining the information I’ve read to write this blog. If you’re like me and not treating yourself to enough sleep, you may be suffering from the same problems.
Maybe you just cannot get to sleep at night. Some factors which may contribute to trouble falling include stress (job, school, family, relationship, etc.), drinking alcohol or caffeine before bedtime, exercising before bedtime or doing anything else which causes the body or brain to work harder than it needs to just before sleep-time. Travel, too much light, temperature, and noise can all affect sleep as well.
The effects of sleep deprivation on the body are numerous and can include weight gain, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and more. Sleep is so crucial and I worry that I, as well as many others, take this rest time for granted.
How much sleep do you need? It all depends on the person, really. If you have difficulty waking up to your alarm after a good 8 hours of sleep, that is a good indication that maybe you need more sleep - even just 30 minutes can do the trick. Scientists from Harvard University point out that if not enough time is spent in each stage of sleep, you won’t feel as rested, and everyone is different here. Children aged 3 to 5 generally need around 11 to 13 hours of sleep while teenagers, surprisingly, can function well on 8 to 10 hours of sleep. Once adulthood hits, the amount of sleep needed varies greatly depending upon diet and lifestyle.
There are methods to helping yourself fall fast asleep each night, and some much of them involve routine. If your bedroom is bright, consider a sleep mask, and make it a comfortable retreat from everyday life!
- Invest in comfortable pillows and sheets, and paint the walls a relaxing shade of lavender, grey, blue or anything else that feels tranquil.
- Set a time to go to bed at night and stick to it, and when your alarm jolts you from your slumber in the morning, get up - don’t hit “snooze” - it tricks your body back into a deep sleep.
- Allow yourself a good dose of sunshine on the commute to work in the morning - the brightness will set your body into daytime mode - hold off on shading your eyes with sunglasses until your lunch break.
- 45 minutes before you’re routine sleep-time, start winding down. No TV, no computer, no cell phone.
- Drink a cup of chamomile tea or warm water with lemon to calm down.
- Try listening to relaxing, low-volume music to relax.
- Avoid exercise, alcohol and caffeine a few hours before bedtime.
- If you’re stressed, try writing in a journal about what is stressing you out - sometimes that process of listing what needs to be done the next day takes it off your mind and allows you to calm down when you’re prepping for bed.
Though seemingly painful at first, these methods will certainly have a positive effect on your sleep schedule and before you know it, you’ll wake up before the alarm!
“Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise”...it’s true! Go to sleep a little earlier tonight and see how you feel in the morning. Some customer suggestions to help sleep - chamomile tea, Rescue Remedy Sleep Spray, melatonin, a bath in lavender, magnesium, zinc and more, and all available at Pomegranate Market!
Just like good food, good sleep goes a long way toward feeding your happy!