Updated: Oct 27, 2019
If you were anything like me, always on the go, in a fast-paced environment, forgoing sleep to catch up on work and other responsibilities. You may have noticed the feeling of being run-down, the struggle to focus or even being irritable for no reason. To keep up, you load yourself with caffeine, sugar and meals from the drive-thru because it's convenient. Eventually, this abuse on your body catches up with you and you start to look like the pug in the picture below! How do you fix it? It starts with the easiest one to control. Sleep.
Sleep does wonders for your mind and body. During the sleep state, your body's internal organs rest and recover, repair tissue, muscle growth and protein synthesis. Hormones that help regulate appetite control, stress growth, metabolism and other bodily functions are released. Memory consolidation occurs, allowing for the formation and storage of new memories, which is essential for learning new formation.
Getting enough quality sleep has benefits for your health and lifestyle. To start, you have increased energy that allows you to do the things you keep putting off (exercise, cooking at home, self-care, etc...) You will notice your immune system is strengthened, heightened alertness and focus. Your creative side flows much more easily. Others will find you much easier to get along with because your mood is better. You are not as grumpy or irritable. It helps reduce anxiety and mental exhaustion. For some, this may help with your sex life, as it increases libido.
You might say, I just don't have enough time to accommodate sleep into my schedule right now. Or, I just don't see it as a priority. Or, I will sleep when I'm dead. Well, you are definitely not slowing down the process of that one if you continue the way you do.
There are many documents that support how lack of sleep affects your health negatively. They include:
Weight gain-not getting adequate sleep makes you gain weight overtime. Part of this weight gain is the high calorie, high fat foods you consume during the day to make up for the lack of energy you feel.
Increased risk of chronic disease-your body is more susceptible to stress when it's lacking sleep and you compromise your immune system. Inflammatory proteins and blood sugar levels increase in response to lower levels of insulin being released throughout the night. Chronic short sleep duration is also associated with hypertension, obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Increased risk of accidents and injuries-tired state of mind will lead to mishaps like stubbing your toe, cutting yourself while in the kitchen, falling or getting into an accident.
Decline in cognitive function-your mental performance suffers when you do not get enough sleep. It impairs your ability in the decision making process. It leads you to make decisions that you may not have, if you were rested. It also impairs your ability to process new information and perform complicated tasks. Your mood, focus and high-level cognitive functions are all affected.
Increased anxiety-you will have a harder time having your emotions in check. Increased feelings of anxiety, irritability, sadness and anger are fairly common.
For optimal health and well-being, it is suggested adults get 7-9 hours of sleep. So how do you make adjustments to your current lifestyle to get that? I suggest, start with something you can live with and sustain.
Scale back-If you normally go to bed at midnight, start with scaling back a half hour. Going to bed at 11:30pm means you would have to start your nighttime/bedtime routine maybe around 10pm or 10:30pm. Not be in bed by 11:30pm and you are on social media till you eventually fall asleep. Continue to scale back and make adjustments till you are getting the 7-9 hours of quality sleep you need.
Turn off the noise-does not only apply to the television or electronics. This also applies to the noise in your head. Train yourself to turn off the worries, stress and concerns off at a certain time at night. Give yourself that time for sense of peace, calm and rejuvenation. Everything that is filling your thoughts and emotions will still be there the next day. It will not help you resolve anything if you are unable to think clearly or foggy in thought process.
Meditation-helps with calming the mind and body. You can do this by sitting upright in your bed with your eyes closed. You can play soft calm music in the background to help bring you to that meditative state.
Breathing exercises-also helps calms down the mind and the body. It helps release tension that you may have been carrying in your shoulders and back. Just 30 seconds of this exercise can make a huge difference in how you feel.
Whichever you choose to do to help you get a good-night's rest, make sure it's something you can do consistently. Continue to shave off 30 minutes each week until you reach the goal of 7-9 hours of sleep. Soon you will be feeling better and refreshed!