Your health is dependent on many things and sleep is one of those things. While you are asleep, your body works to maintain optimum brain function and physical health. The brain uses the time we sleep to build new pathways, process information and prepare for the next day. Our body gets a chance to repair blood vessels, support our immune system and release ‘good’ hormones.
Sleep deficiency, on the other hand, leads to a variety of problems. It alters parts of our brain, which leads to difficulty in learning and remembering information. We find it hard to control our emotions and adapt to change. Children and teenagers need sleep to develop in a normal and healthy manner and may have severe mood swings if they are not well-rested. Sleep is also linked to puberty and fertility. Sleep deficiency weakens your immune system and leaves you prone to heart disease, obesity, kidney disease, stroke and depression.
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine reports that about 30-35% of Americans have brief symptoms of insomnia. This means that each night millions of people struggle to fall asleep. Your performance during the day is directly linked to how well you slept, so many of these people complain of low energy, zero motivation and poor health. So, what can be done to help? Here are 12 habits that may be inhibiting us from getting our 8 blissful hours of snooze-time.
Always warm up your feet before bed by wearing thick woollen socks or taking a warm bath. You can also try massaging your feet gently to encourage blood circulation.
The sensation of ice-cold toes will constantly interrupt your sleep and wake you up in the middle of the night.
Why is a bedtime routine important? For starters, it is an indicator for the brain to slow down and start getting ready for bed. It’s also a chance for you to incorporate healthy bedtime habits, such as washing your face, taking off your makeup, brushing your teeth and meditating.
Coffee contains caffeine, which chases away your sleep and prevents you from falling back asleep.
Experts recommend sleeping on your left side or in a foetal position. Sleeping on your side allows your brain to remove waste that could cause neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s. The foetal position is more effective with women than men and lets your spine rest in its natural position. Avoid sleeping on your back and stomach.
Do not scroll through your phone, laptop or tablet right before bedtime. The brightness of the screen alerts the brain to stay awake. Keep your electronic devices on silent or turned off during the night to prevent them from waking you up in the middle of the night.
Believe it or not, reading books has the same effect as scrolling through your phone. It stimulates brain activity rather than slowing it down.
Experts recommend deep breathing or meditation instead.
Choose a non-digital alarm clock over a digital or glow-in-the-dark one. Those kinds will constantly catch your eye when you’re trying to fall asleep and prevent you from doing so.
Nothing disturbs your sleep quite as constantly rushing to the bathroom to relieve yourself.
It’s always tempting to take a nap as it leaves you feeling well-rested. However, because your brain has had enough rest, it does not fall asleep easily at night. If you keep on taking naps, you will disturb your entire sleeping schedule.
The quality of your mattress is directly linked to how rested and energized you feel in the morning.
Wait until more than 2 hours have passed since dinnertime and go to bed. This gives our stomach ample time to digest dinner. The digestion process keeps us awake, so it is better to retire to bed without a full stomach.
Exercising is good and all, but it should be done during the daytime. The reason? It releases adrenaline in the blood, which promotes wakefulness and alertness. It takes hours for adrenaline to leave our system so exercise should be avoided at night.