We all know the basic steps we need to take for better health. Eat less and move more. The people who are able to do this seem to constantly post on social media about their triumphs. So why don’t we ever see someone say “Man, I got a solid 8 hours of sleep last night! #crushingit”? Generally, people know that getting adequate sleep is important for daily functioning. But, all I ever see are posts about “Running on no sleep!” or “I’ll sleep when I’m dead!” I’m here to pen an ode to better sleep!
Science says get your zzz’s!
It isn’t just your day-to-day that is negatively affected by poor, inconsistent sleep. Research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that not getting less than the recommended minimum seven hours a night seems to correlate with other health risk factors. This includes obesity, physical inactivity, smoking, and excessive use of alcohol. This could, of course, mean that people who don’t get enough sleep don’t prioritize their health overall. But the CDC also reports that short sleepers are more likely to report chronic health conditions like heart attack, stroke, asthma, and others.
Who needs sleep?
Of course, there are many people who simply cannot get adequate shut-eye. This includes parents with young children, shift workers, people who use certain medications, and those who suffer from insomnia. But if you’re just up late, cruising Netflix until you can’t hold your eyes open any longer, you’ve got little excuse! I am not sure whether it’s due to my getting older, but I am so much more aware of how poor sleep affects me. I just don’t feel right without at least eight hours a night, and I need to get it consistently. When I’m sleeping well, I can power through anything. If anything disturbs that pattern, I don’t exercise as well, I feel grouchy, and I know I’m not as productive.
So, where can I get this glorious “sleep” you’re describing?
We’ve got a great article that outlines six excellent suggestions for getting to sleep when you can’t. To add a few more ideas, one that frequently works for me is going through my body, head to toe, and actively relaxing each part in turn. If you’re into yoga or meditation, you might have an easier time doing this, though with a little practice, anyone can learn it! Another technique to try is a white noise machine. If you don’t want to go to the expense, you can download an app to duplicate the effects. The app or machine will allow you to play some form of repetitive noise that you may find relaxing. In all honesty, I’ve had mixed results with this, but some people swear by it.
Researchers say to be sure that your sleep isn’t just long enough, but that it is consistent. So, if you wake up at 5:30 am on the weekdays, you really should do so on the weekends as well. (I know – this is the sleep “rule” I consistently break, too.) The benefits are both physical and mental. If I haven’t convinced you to take every step you can to get better sleep, consider this. Your lack of sleep can affect others. Missing sleep can double your chances of a car accident that could could hurt you or someone else. For the benefit of everyone, we all need to hit the hay earlier. Let’s take care of each other and feel better because of it!