This month, Elevate wants to focus on all things sleep! Why is sleep so important, and what steps can you take to ensure you’re getting the best rest you can. First, it’s important to understand why sleep is essential to not only living a happy life, but a healthy life as well. Getting adequate sleep is beneficial before, and after learning something new. We need rest to maintain the pathways in our brains that help us learn and create new memories. A lack of sleep, or sleep deprivation, has been linked to dementia, and can hinder your performance on memory related tasks. Science has told us that getting between 7 and 8 hours of sleep a night is what most adults should aim for, but for some this is easier said than done.
So how can you ensure that you’re getting enough sleep each night? One principal that’s important to remember is that regularity is key. Going to bed at different times throughout the week throws off your body's natural balance, or inner-clock, and it’s unlikely that you’ll receive an adequate amount of restful sleep.
Trying to keep your sleep schedule as consistent as possible is incredibly important. Most people have a difficult time sticking to a schedule on the weekends, but as someone who has adopted a sleep schedule, I can personally say that my overall health has improved vastly since I made the change. Sticking to a sleep schedule also means waking up at the same time every morning. It’s best to look at what time you need to wake up in the morning and plan on being in bed at least 8 hours before that.
Another tip that can improve your sleep quality is understanding the effect that alcohol and caffeine has on your body. Drinking alcohol before bed may help you fall asleep, but alcohol will often keep you in the lighter stages of sleep. Alcohol can also worsen sleep apnea, and when the effects of alcohol wear off it can wake you up in the middle of the night, ensuring that you're not getting a restful night’s sleep. Avoiding caffeine late in the day is also important if you’re trying to keep a regular sleep schedule. The effects of caffeine can take as long as 8 hours to wear off fully, so it’s best to avoid coffee in the late afternoon or evening.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly for in our day and age, is to avoid bright lights, i.e. phone or tv screens, thirty minutes to an hour before your bedtime. Professor and Neuroscientist Matthew Walker explains it best in his short TED series video, ‘6 tips for better sleep.’
“[...] we need darkness specifically in the evening to trigger the release of a hormone called melatonin, and melatonin helps regulate the healthy timing of our sleep.”
It’s true that many people’s nightly routine nowadays revolves around watching tv, playing video games or looking at their phones. As somebody who also struggles with having too much screen time, something that’s helped me is reading before bed. Keeping the lights in your house low and doing a low energy activity helps you wind down and get mentally and physically prepared for bed. It’s a good rule of thumb to set a reminder or an alarm an hour or so before your bedtime so that you know it’s time to turn your screens off.
One way I ensure I’m getting the best sleep I can is by taking GoodNight Herbal Support by NutriDyn before bed. GoodNight is a blend of vitamins, herbs and amino acids that support healthy sleep quality. Make sure you consult your medical provider before taking any herbal supplements.
It seems that regular sleep is sometimes frowned upon today. Many people prioritize staying out late and find that five to six hours of sleep a night is enough. But we don't have to settle for that! Granted, some people have several jobs and kids to take care of, and aren't in a position to get that much sleep. But if you find that you do have the time to get seven to eight hours of sleep a night, take advantage of it. See it as the luxury that it is, and ensure that your brain and body get the treatment they deserve. I believe that those who try just one week of an eight hour sleep schedule will not only be pleasantly surprised, but they won't go back to their old routine.
“6 Tips for Better Sleep | Sleeping with Science, a TED Series.” YouTube, YouTube, 2 Sept. 2020, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t0kACis_dJE. Accessed 7 June 2023.
“Brain Basics: Understanding Sleep.” National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, www.ninds.nih.gov/health-information/public-education/brain-basics/brain-basics-understanding-sleep#:~:text=Without%20sleep%20you%20can’t,neurons)%20communicate%20with%20each%20other. Accessed 7 June 2023.
“Sleep Disorders: Insomnia: Sleep Deprivation.” Evernote, www.evernote.com. Accessed 7 June 2023.
“Sleep Is Your Superpower | Matt Walker.” YouTube, YouTube, 3 June 2019, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5MuIMqhT8DM. Accessed 7 June 2023.
Sparks, Dana. “Wake up to the Importance of Sleep - Mayo Clinic News Network.” Mayo Clinic, 14 Mar. 2019, newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/discussion/wake-up-to-the-importance-of-sleep/#:~:text=Sleep%20plays%20a%20crucial%20role,for%20a%20good%20night’s%20rest.