Feel a little grumpy or slow to start your engine this morning? You probably are not getting enough sleep! Our bodies need sleep for healthy and balanced mental, physical, social, and emotional health. That’s right. Sleep is so important, it impacts nearly every aspect of our well-being. So ladies and dudes, if you feel like you are not getting enough beauty zzzs, read the health department’s 5 Tips for More Restful Sleep:
1. MONITOR LIGHT
Our sleep cycles are based on circadian rhythms that are triggered responses to light. When light hits our eyes, our bodies slow the release of melatonin (the sleepy hormone.) Getting full sun exposure first thing in the morning and limiting screen time before bed/reducing exposure to blue ambient light can help keep us on a regular schedule.
2. CREATE A COMFORTABLE SLEEP ENVIRONMENT
Our sleep cycle has several different levels but arguably the most important one is REM (Rapid Eye Movement) otherwise known as “deep sleep.” Scientists believe dreams occur during this deep sleep as our brain is processing and storing the important information we have collected throughout the day. However, interruptions during the night and an uncomfortable sleep environment can prevent our minds from ever getting to REM. Try to reduce disruptive noise by using ear plugs or turning on a sound machine, fan, or soft music. And we sleep best when our bodies are cool with the ideal room temperature being around 65 degrees.
3. EXERCISE REGULARLY
Exercising regularly not too close to bedtime helps us get a better night’s sleep as well. Even light exercise daily speeds up your metabolism, elevates body temperature and stimulates hormones. Our bodies repair muscle while we are sleeping. Doing some light stretches or yoga before bed can help you fall asleep more quickly.
4. HAVE GOOD NUTRITION
No brainer. You should limit caffeine intake especially right before bed. Smoking and alcohol also have similar effects on sleep cycles as caffeine. Not to mention drinking too much liquid before going to sleep causes late night trips to the bathroom. Rumbling tummies can also keep us from falling asleep. From time to time we can experience the “midnight munchies.” Eating late at night can trigger indigestion but if your stomach won’t let you rest eat a healthy bedtime snack like a small bowl of cereal, milk, yogurt, or a banana.
5. MANAGE STRESS
Stress is a survival mechanism that helps us overcome stressors or perceivably dangerous triggers in our day to day lives. When experiencing stress our body releases cortisol. This process is commonly called the fight or flight response. And it is good. Short term. But over periods of time prolonged toxic stress can alter our brain, halt brain development, change our genetics, and cause a whole plethora of negative health outcomes. Stress also keeps us awake at night causing us to be groggy the next day and making it more difficult to address whatever it is we were stressing about in the first place. You can get in control of the problem you are stressing over by making a plan of action or talking to someone. Sometimes it helps to take your mind off of things. Good stress relievers include socializing and having a laugh, exercising, going out in nature, meditating, or reading.
This article was written by Samantha Wilson for the Buffalo Trace District Health Department. Published 5-12-2020.