Sleep is essential for helping your body repair itself. Adults need 7-9 hours of sleep a night, but many of us aren’t getting it.
Your physical health also suffers if you don’t get enough rest. The risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, immune disorders, and other illnesses increases without good sleep cycle. Additionally, improper rest increases the production of the stress hormone cortisol, which not only makes you more stressed out, but also increases your likelihood of gaining weight.
Prolonged sleep deprivation can lead to reduced immune function, poor mental function and even an increased risk for chronic disease. Sleep deprivation makes it more difficult to regulate your emotions so you’re more likely to have a short temper and mood swings, and you may feel more stressed and sadder.
Good sleep is needed to safeguard your mental health. Studies suggest chronic, insufficient sleep may increase the risk for developing some mental illnesses, such as depression and anxiety. Good sleep can also help those with an existing mental health disorder cope better. The longer you’ve gone without sleep, the longer it will take to recover, so it can take days or weeks to recover from a sleep deprivation.
If you miss more than a day of sleep, you may have impaired memory, slow reaction time and impaired immune function. After two days of sleep loss, you may have anxiety, irritability, and even begin to hallucinate. After three days of missed sleep, you could have delusions and disordered thinking and, after four days, your perception of reality will be severely distorted.
So, here are 10 tips to incorporate healthier sleep habits:
- Create a regular sleep routine. Go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day.
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol and nicotine, and heavy, spicy or sugary foods late in the day.
- Keep your bedroom cool, dark, quiet and make your bed and bedding comfortable.
- Avoid stimulating activities, like exercise, before bed.
- Use your bed for sleep and intimacy only.
- If you can’t fall asleep or if you wake up and can’t go back to sleep within 20 minutes, get up and do something boring until you feel drowsy.
- Don’t take naps, especially after 3 p.m. and for no more than 30 minutes.
- Dim the lights and put away electronic devices for an hour or more before bed.
- Get regular exercise during the day. Staying active can help you spend more time in deep sleep.
- Do something relaxing before bedtime (e.g., take a warm bath, read, listen to relaxing music, practice deep breathing or mindfulness).
So keep your sleep cycle regulated because, “There is no sunrise so beautiful that it is worth waking you up to see it.”