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Sleep is an essential part of life. Our bodies need time to shut off, rest, and recuperate. In fact, humans are the only species on the planet that deprives itself of sleep; every other species innately knows the importance of getting rest.
Why do you need sleep, and how can you get the best night’s rest you’ve ever had?
Why We Need Sleep
Sleep is a necessary reset for your body to repair its own health and wellness. Here are some things that sleep does for your body:
Some studies even suggest that sleep can help you live longer!
So sleep is important, but most of us don’t sleep enough or well enough. Check out these tips for improving your sleep regimen.
How to Sleep
A consistent ritual before bed can actually signal your brain that it’s time to start shutting down. A relaxing bedtime routine will help release more melatonin and lower cortisol, so you can get rid of the stress of the day to ease into a deep sleep.
Some good ideas for a bedtime routine:
Going to bed at the same time every night (and waking up at the same time every morning) also can help put your brain in a natural circadian rhythm.
Lights tell your brain that it’s time to be awake. Biologically, we are meant to be awake with the sun and in bed with the darkness. When the lights turn off, your brain starts making melatonin, which is the sleep hormone.
So, about an hour before bedtime, start to dim your lights to help prepare your brain for bedtime. This readies your body for a deep, restful slumber.
Electronics give off “blue light,” which disrupts sleeping patterns. Blue light is good for you during the day because it boosts attention, reaction time, and mood—but it raises your energy at night and can cause restlessness for hours.
Some experts also suggest that the radio waves emitted from your cell phone can interrupt your brain waves. Avoid putting your phone on your bed or too close to your head. Put your alarm across the room so you don’t have any sleep disturbances, and it’ll help get your feet out of bed in the morning.
Plus, disconnecting from your phone means disconnecting from work and other stressors that could be keeping you up at night.
Caffeine has an impact on the brain, whether or not it makes you feel alert.
Try to avoid drinking caffeine after 3 pm. You may have your own cut-off time, so experiment to see how your body handles your caffeine intake. Stopping your coffee drinking in the middle of the day may actually give you more energy and help you sleep better—so you’ll need less coffee long-term to get through the day!
P.S. Caffeine isn’t just in coffee. It hides in tea, chocolate, energy bars, soft drinks, and even ice cream.
After you eat, your body stops everything to digest your food. If you eat right before bed, your body will use all of its energy on digestion—rather than all the good stuff it’s supposed to be doing during sleep. Avoid eating too late so your body isn’t working in overdrive while you sleep. (But also don’t go to bed hungry, because then you won’t be able to fall asleep.)
You also want to be careful about what you eat for dinner. Spicy, salty, or oily foods are harder to digest, so they can cause heartburn and indigestion throughout the night. Starches or carbs like pasta and bread can spike your insulin levels, so you’ll feel really energetic before bed—but then go through a sugar crash in the middle of the night.
Have you ever woken up in the middle of a dream and felt disoriented all day? That’s because your body doesn’t want to wake up during dreams. Dreams mean you’re sleeping well, resting, and rejuvenating.
Your body sleeps in cycles of rapid eye movement (REM). If you wake up in the middle of one of the cycles, you’ll likely be groggy and grouchy all day because your body was in the middle of repairing itself.
A typical REM cycle lasts about 1.5 hours. So, you’ll want to try to set your alarm in increments of an hour and a half. For example, you might sleep 6, 7.5, or 9 hours. If you sleep 8 hours, you could actually wake up during a REM cycle—and end up feeling even more exhausted than when you went to sleep! Try to sleep in increments of an hour and a half and you’ll wake up a better version of yourself!
Physical activity during the day, especially cardio, can help you sleep better at night. This basically uses up your energy reserves, which can help you get that satisfying “fall into bed” feeling at the end of the day. Plus, exercise increases heart rate and stress hormones like adrenaline, so it will keep you going throughout the day and help your body release any stress that could be keeping you up at night.
But don’t exercise too close to bedtime. Working out increases your energy immediately afterward and releases adrenaline and cortisol, which will keep you wide awake for a few hours. It’s best to avoid exercising at least two or three hours before bedtime.
Sleep and relaxation are essential to overall health, happiness, and even skin youthfulness. They call it “beauty rest” for a reason!
How do you get your beauty rest? Are you sleeping enough? Which of these tips can you implement to make sure you get a better night’s sleep tonight and wake up feeling refreshed and radiant?
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