In this busy modern world, we often overlook the importance which sleep has on our overall health.
According to statistics, the average individual sleeps for about 6 hours and 40 minutes on a workday and about 7 hours and 25 minutes during the weekend.
But that still falls short of the 8 hours of sleep we really need, doesn’t it?
And make no mistake, getting the full 8 hours should be essential. It plays an important role in maintaining our mental function and alertness levels, our general mood and even regulating our hormones (which makes it particularly vital for diabetics).
It is even crucial for improving our immune system and repairing our blood vessels.
This is basically each person’s internal biological clock. And when one’s circadian rhythm is not taken seriously, it can lead to an imbalance in one’s metabolic functions.
This rhythm depends on the interaction of one’s hormones in the body. For example, cortisol, which is directly influenced by the lack of proper sleep, and, in turn, has a negative effect on one’s blood glucose levels and insulin regulation.
There is a number of studies that show this. And this can happen even if you lack sleep for less than a week. This, of course, also makes your blood sugar levels rise and makes you less capable of dealing with this high glucose.
There appears to be a very strong link between sleep quality and regulating one’s appetite. This is because your body’s production of leptin (the ‘fullness hormone’) is decreased while the production of ghrelin (the hunger hormone) increases.
The result is a constant hunger which, no matter what or how much you eat, you cannot seem to satiate.
There are many who report having an increased craving for carbs, and this includes starchy and salty snacks, as well as sweets. This is due to the activation of your brain’s reward centers.
This means that you’re not just hungrier, but you’re also more prone to making the wrong diet choices.
Poor sleep has been linked on more than one occasion with increased inflammation, which leads to many other diseases and feeling tired all the time.
Ironically, cortisol counts as one of your body’s main natural anti-inflammatory agents, but the opposite can occur when one is sleep-deprived.
More reasons why everyone needs restorative sleep is that a lack of it can lead to cardiovascular issues, memory loss, anxiety, and depression, and even higher chances of premature death.
We think those are all very good reasons, so here is how to make sure you get a proper shut-eye.
Even though you can’t always have control over such things, it is vital to make sleep one of your topmost priorities. Those who do seem to sleep for an extra 36 minutes on average per night.
Those who engage in workouts and are more active throughout their day, in general, have a higher quality of sleep than those who do not.
You should try and create a habit for yourself to going to bed at around the same time each night. It would be ideal if that time was before 11 PM.
The best way to make sure you feel sleepy is to reduce any technology or bright screens (or any other overly-active activities) and instead turn to a nice relaxing book or calming music.
And apparently, you sleep how you eat as well. Consuming foods that are poor in fiber leads to disturbed sleep. That’s why it’s a no-brainer to include foods low in carbs and high in protein and fiber in your daily diet.
Also, keep in mind that while you should definitely drink plenty of water to stay well hydrated, you should avoid drinking too much in the evening as that will lead to you having to get up in the middle of the night to urinate, thus ruining your sleep quality.
Furthermore, it has been proven time and time again that we tend to make unhealthier food choices as the evening progresses. So, it would be wise to stay away from the fridge for a few hours before hitting the sack.
We are sure we don’t need to inform you that both alcohol and caffeine can lead to an improper sleep cycle. But so can some supplements you may be taking before bed, though this can vary from person to person.
Exposing yourself to natural sunlight, particularly in the mornings will not only supply you with much-needed vitamin D but also improve your sleep quality. It is also helpful for aiding the synthesis of melatonin.
This can be an ‘easier said than done’ situation for those of you who live in places that are not exactly abundant in sunlight.
That’s why you should also consider getting yourself a UV sun lamp, which will come in handy especially during those gloomy winter months.
Like we already advised, it’s best to avoid bright-screened electronics the closer you get to your bedtime.
Also, if your lamps are too bright, you can replace them with dimmer ones as too much light can disturb one’s sleep process. You can even opt for sleep masks or blackout curtains.
Worrying and constantly racing thoughts will naturally disturb your sleep quality. So try meditating or otherwise relaxing in order to give your mind some much-needed rest.
There are plenty of relaxation techniques and breathing exercises you can try to achieve this. See what works best for you.
Even though using a tracking app won’t help you sleep any better, they are at least partially able to analyze your sleep patterns and movements, which may be of some use.
That way you can inform yourself about your own sleep patterns and devise a strategy for improving them.
Furthermore, we tend to prioritize and organize things more if we are able to track them better. This means we might make better decisions based on the information which these apps can provide.
There you go, ladies and gentlemen. Remember, you don’t have to be diagnosed with diabetes in order to get proper sleep.
Decent shut-eye is a must for everyone, as it greatly improves their overall well-being. Nighty-night!