Sleep. Every knows it is important, but how does it impact us?
Sleep allows us to get what I call the “3 Rs”: Rest, Repair, and Recovery time. We all need REST from the busyness that has taken over our culture. During sleep our body is also REPAIRING from the physical stresses we placed on our bodies the previous day. Aside from the physical stress, sleep also allows us to rest our minds. Not enough sleep can make it difficult to focus and/or cause our bodies to not repair and be prepared for the next day. RECOVERING from the physical and mental stress allows us to feel more refreshed and ready to tackle the next day ahead.
We are all different so figuring out how much sleep you specifically need to thrive is the most important. Oversleeping can also backfire and cause someone to be more tired throughout their day. Here is a link to a chart from the Mayo Clinic on recommended sleep by age group. These are general rules for hours of sleep.
If sleep is important, why aren’t people getting enough? Here are a few things that can be part of the problem.
Stress is certainly a big factor
Working too many hours, or not turning off the work brain
Being in front of a screen before bed can stimulating brain activity
Alcohol or caffeine prior to bed can be disruptive
Sleeping is a full-time job – about 6-10 hours per day. For the same reason ergonomics at a “workstation” are important, your “sleep station” (bed set up) is also important. An old mattress, or pillow can make people not rest as well due to being uncomfortable, or not supported well. A sign you might need a new pillow or mattress may be restless sleep or waking up stiff/sore.
What can you do to help get better sleep? I’m glad you asked! Here are a few of my recommendations.
The body likes routine. A simple way to get better sleep is to have a similar sleep/wake cycle. That means goes to bed and wake up at the same time each day. This helps program the body to get into a pattern.
Try not drinking too close to bedtime, whether it be alcohol or regular liquids. This will decrease the need to use the bathroom, and no alcohol/caffeine also will improve the chances of more quality deep sleep. However, some herbal teas (decaffeinated) can be relaxing before bed.
Reading before bed has been helpful for me to get my brain distracted from the day; I typically fall asleep easier.
Try turning off any screens about one hour prior to bed. This reduces stimulation should make it easier to fall asleep.
Make your bed for sleep and intimacy only. Doing things like work, watching tv, and being on the phone or other screen time confuses the brain when it is time to sleep. Training your brain to know that bedtime means sleep time is important.
Staying cool. My body tends to run on the warm-hot end by nature and can interrupt sleep when I get too hot. I purchased a Chili Pad (not an endorsement, but I like it) which keeps me cool at night. Turning a fan on or setting the temperature to stay cool in the room may also be helpful.
Magnesium before bed can also help people sleep or may decrease restless legs.
Take time to relax: Epsom salt baths, calming yoga, deep breathing, meditation, prayer, or a gratitude journal before bed. Lavender scent can also be calming. (My wife loves this smell; I do not, but it works for many.)
One of my new favorite things to do before I fall asleep is what I have named “little joys.” I don’t know about you, but my kids can make bedtime exhausting and put me in a bad mood at times. Sometimes my day had some hard moments. I have realized this can sometimes make my brain think the entire day was negative. What I have started to do is before I fall asleep is to do a mental movie of my day. I go back and relive some of the good moments or look for the “little joys.”
The day is full of them, but many get forgotten due to the frustrations of the day. This helps me end my day on a positive mental note, makes me have gratitude about my day, and helps me go to sleep not thinking about the 5-10% of my day that may have not been the best.
I hope you find the information helpful. And if you find yourself with a stiff neck, or ever needing chiropractic services. I encourage you to call me or schedule an appointment at the clinic!