There’s an excellent chance that you’ve heard about the importance of “a good night’s sleep” a million times, yet statistically we adults spend less time prioritizing this than we do work, socializing, even Netflix… Since it takes some time before we start noticing our health deteriorating as a consequence of sleep deprivation we look for short term solutions like loading up on stimulants in the morning to make up for low energy levels. It probably doesn’t help that our culture rewards people who work 16 hour days and sacrifice their precious rest so they can squeeze in more tasks in the day. However, all of this comes at a high cost and eventually your body will come to collect. So why not stay ahead of the game and instead listen to the signals your body gives you throughout the day? Sometimes we just need to pause, take a deep breath, and really start building that solid foundation: a good night’s sleep.
What can a good night’s sleep do for you?!
1. Improved concentration and productivity. Different aspects of your brain function depending on the quality of your sleep cycle. These are aspects like concentration, cognitive performance, and productivity. To have enhanced memory and proper problem-solving skills, you need quality over quantity of sleep.
2. Many of our hormones replenish during sleep. So if you struggle with anxiety, depression, brain fog, or fatigue - you may want to look into the quality of your sleep
3. Quality sleep is essential for the healing of damaged cells.
4. Sleep helps you recover from physical activities done during the day.
5. It helps boost your immune system.
6. It recharges your cardiovascular system and heart so you can go all in the following day.
What's a Sleep Cycle?
A sleep cycle consists of recurring phases - Light, Deep, and Rapid Eye Movement (REM). Light sleep takes up about 50% of our sleeping hours and that’s when we process memories, emotions, and improve metabolism. Deep sleep occupies about 10%-25% of our total rest every night and helps the body repair growth tissues, reset the hormone system, and restore its energy. REM sleep is what our mind needs to process and consolidate stress, emotions, and memories while we dream. This phase, which usually takes up between 20-25% of sleeping hours, is thought to be vital for learning new skills.
You may have experienced moments when you went to bed early, slept for 10 hours and still woke up feeling groggy. That’s why it is essential to measure the quality of your sleep to see if you may be missing out on some of the cycles. Fitbit, Oura Ring, or Apple Watch can help you do that. Collecting your sleep data for a week or two can open up a whole new world of insights into faster recovery and lifestyle upgrades.
What 's an ideal sleeping environment?
An ideal sleeping environment should be comfortable, quiet and cool. It should actually be a pitch black room. You should also have your phone in an airplane mode, and the Wifi turned off. This helps minimize the emission of radio frequencies from cellular phones. Personally, I keep my phone in an airplane mode the first hour of my day, so I can do my morning practice and have a few small victories behind my belt before I address the outside world. It may also be a good idea to look into a white noise machine, humidifier, and air ionizer for your room. And of course the best source of clean oxygen - plants!
How can you prepare for quality sleep?
Here are some tips you can use to help you enjoy rest like never before:
• Avoid setting your eyes on televisions, computers and/or phone screens a minimum of 90 minutes before sleep. And if you must, then wear the blue light blocking glasses, such as True Dark or Swannies.
• Take an Epsom salt bath with lavender to relax your nervous system and get rid of any stiffness in your body.
• Listen to soothing music
• Write a few thoughts in a Gratitude journal; this helps you summarize the day and focus on the positive events. It has been researched and reported that whilst the mind is in a state of gratitude, it cannot simultaneously feel stress nor worry.
• Take sleep supplements:
As reported by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 30% of people do not enjoy a perfect night sleep as a result of stimulants, anxiety, chronic pains, and allergies (amongst other things). To help overcome these conditions, there are a great variety of sleep support supplements; for example passion flower, valerian, magnesium, chamomile tea, and 5-HTP. You can find these supplements in a variety of different sleep-inducing products.
In conclusion, sleep is the most powerful rejuvenation tool our body is equipped with. It’s free and is available to all of us. USE IT! I hope this article will at the very least serve as a reminder of the importance of quality sleep for your mental, physical and social well-being. As you can see, some small changes and habit adjustments, should help you both enjoy your sleep, and make the most of it!
*DISCLAIMER: information in this article is for educational purposes only and is not meant to replace medical advice