Instinctively we all know that a good night’s sleep is vital to our physical and mental well-being. But there’s also a ton of scientific evidence to back that assertion.
So let’s hear it from the experts.
According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), a premier center of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, getting enough quality sleep at the right times can “help protect your mental health, physical health, quality of life, and safety.”
How you feel when you’re awake also depends on “what happens while you’re sleeping”, the NHLBI states.
Poor sleep has been linked to greater risk of stroke and heart disease, type 2 diabetes and depression. Good sleep can improve athletic performance, concentration and productivity, and makes you consume fewer calories.
So how do you ensure that you’re getting your required quota of good sleep every night? Here are the top 10 sleep hacks:
1) Stick to a routine
The time you go to bed and your wake up time should as far as possible follow a predictable pattern. This regulates your body’s internal clock and makes the rhythm of sleeping and waking up more natural.
2) Dim the lights
In the days before artificial lights, dusk was a natural signal for the body to start preparing for sleep. But our modern, brightly-lit homes send confusing signals to our brains when it’s dark outside. So as you and your family approach bedtime, start dimming the lights. If you’re watching TV or working on the laptop, you may want to dim the light of your device’s screen.
Darkness triggers the secretion of hormones like melatonin that promote a relaxed state.
3) Or go for total darkness
Blackout shades can stop all light coming in from your windows. Make sure you’ve shut all light sources if you’re aiming for complete darkness. If you have to get up and check on the toddler at 2am, do it by switching on the gentlest of lights.
4) Napping is not bad – but be smart about it
Once you have a fixed night time sleeping routine, an afternoon nap can still work wonders — provided you don’t overdo it. It’s called a nap for a reason folks, and snoring away for 3 hours is sure to upset your overall sleeping schedule.
5) Stay fit
If you exercise regularly — doctors say even 30 minutes of moderate exercise per day boosts your health – chances are you will sleep well, too. But don’t break into that marathon just before you plan to go to bed.
6) ‘Sound’ sleep
Sorry, couldn’t resist the pun. But sound can be an overlooked factor when it comes to sleep. If you’re absolutely allergic to all kinds of sounds while getting to bed, you might want to invest in some cool noise-cancelling earphones. But for some people, nothing works better than sleeping to some light jazz. On low volume, please.
7) Install an air purifier
People tend to ignore the air inside their homes, mistakenly assuming it’s cleaner than the air outside. However studies have shown that indoor air pollution can be far worse, leading to respiratory and other illnesses in adults and children alike. As if that wasn’t bad enough, recent studies have shown that poor air quality can also disturb your sleep.
You don’t want to take a risk when it comes to breathing bad air for several hours while you and your family are blissfully asleep. If lack of clean indoor air is a problem, it makes a lot of sense to install a good air purifier like the new blue pure 211 from blueair. This is one investment which will keep giving you and your family benefits for years.
8) Cut down your caffeine intake
Caffeine in coffee, tea and colas interferes with the sleeping process, especially if consumed closer to bedtime. It might feel good when you’re having it, but coffee just before bedtime is not very conducive to deep sleep. Try a soothing cup of herbal tea instead.
9) Don’t habitually over-indulge
A late night party, freely flowing drinks and that celebrated Mediterranean cuisine you’ve never tried before…who wouldn’t be tempted? But if you find yourself collapsing into your bed way too often after overeating and overdrinking and waking up feeling terrible, it’s time to take a pause and reorient your lifestyle. And, yes, smoking interferes with sleep too.
10) Seek help
If you’ve tried everything and nothing appears to be working, you might want to seek professional help. Perhaps you’re anxious about something, and that’s keeping you awake late into the night? Or there could be other causes which your GP or therapist might be able to determine.
The damage from sleep deficiency can occur in an instant (such as a car crash), or it can harm you over time. For example, ongoing sleep deficiency can raise your risk for some chronic health problems. It also can affect how well you think, react, work, learn, and get along with others.