To this day sleep remains one of the biggest scientific mysteries in the world, with no one really knowing why we need it. But what we do know is that it’s a time for your body to “regenerate” and fix itself. However, evolution isn’t random at all and you can be sure that sleep serves an essential purpose.
Whatever the reason is, we all know how important sleep is and how getting a lot of it can completely transform your stressful lifestyle into something that you enjoy. A lot of research has been done into all different aspects of sleep, however, a recent study by the Department of Biobehavioral Health at Penn State is one of the most interesting I’ve come across. They researched the effect that quality and quantity of sleep has on a person’s life, and found that poor sleep can easily prevent you from enjoying your day and having positive experiences throughout life.
While studies like this seem obvious to most people, it’s really interesting to see how much sleep can affect someone’s life, which is something I had never actually considered before. When I first started college I used to find it really difficult to sleep because of the constant pressure I was under to complete essays and maintain good grades. My roommate snoring like a trucker didn’t help either! If only these studies had been around when I was at school, maybe I would have considered a white noise machine or some headphones for sleeping.
10 Tips for Healthy Sleep
As the Penn State study has shown, having a healthy sleeping pattern can completely transform your lifestyle, which is why we feel it’s important that everyone is able to get a good night’s sleep. We’ve summarized the top ten tips for healthy sleeping in the list below:
- Create a rigid sleep schedule and STICK TO IT! Regulating your body clock is an important component in healthy sleep, which is why creating a strict sleep schedule is incredibly important. For example, if you go to bed at 2 am at the weekends but need to wake up at 7 am on a Monday, you’re going to find it difficult to go to sleep before 2 am, as your body has gotten used to this schedule.
- Relax and De-Stress before sleeping. It’s a given that being stressed before bedtime isn’t going to help you sleep, which is why relaxation should be at the forefront of your mind on an evening. Try not to worry about the hectic day you have had at work or the difficult day you’re going to have tomorrow, just focus on sleeping! You may also want to try a curcumin supplement – it derives from turmeric, is a natural MAO inhibitor, and can help relax you before bed.
- Napping; Don’t do it! While napping may be ideal for people who need to go to bed very late or be up very early, it’s actually bad for the average person. As we mentioned in the first tip, having a regulated body clock will help you get to sleep and stay asleep, which is why power napping and confusing your body is a bad idea.
- Daily exercise. Not only will exercising every day help you to sleep better, but it will also help to prevent a whole host of other illnesses that can occur due to being unfit. Working out helps to reduce stress and tire you out, two things which are important for quality sleep.
- Create a calming sleeping environment. If you are trying to get to sleep, it’s probably not a good idea to be in a room that’s freezing cold with an open window letting in the bustling sound of the city outside. Making sure that your bedroom isn’t too cold/warm/bright/loud/uncomfortable is one of the most important steps on this list, and it’s often what people neglect. Creating an ideal sleeping environment will completely transform your sleeping habits, turning narcoleptics into the deepest of sleepers.
- Invest in a comfortable mattress and pillow! No matter how good/bad you are at sleeping, every single person will be able to fall asleep faster on a nice, memory foam mattress than the cold, hard floor, which is why getting yourself a good bed/pillow is a good idea. I’m not saying that you need to go out and spend thousands of dollars on a mattress, but certainly making sure that it’s not just a plank of wood covered in bubble wrap is probably a good idea.
- Manage your circadian rhythms. Just like your body clock, controlling your circadian rhythms will help you to get a better night’s sleep. Try and avoid looking at bright lights in the evening, and instead make sure that you wake up to sunlight. This will help your body associate darkness with sleep.
- Detoxicate in the evening. While everyone likes to go out and have a good time on an evening, enjoying a heavy meal and drinking with your friends, it can easily disrupt your sleep. Getting indigestion or feeling sick, which can often happen after drinking alcohol and eating a lot. Snacking is a good idea in the evening because it doesn’t give you indigestion, and making sure that you don’t consume too much alcohol or caffeine in an evening is important.
- Keep your sleeping environment your sleeping environment. It’s really important that you build up an association between your bedroom and sleep, and not stressful work, television or computers that could be preventing you from sleeping. If you aren’t tired don’t sit in bed watching the news or rushing to finish an essay due the next day, take it to another room and relax.
- Speak to a specialist. While these tips and tricks do help the vast majority of people get to sleep, others still struggle to sleep to matter what they try. This may be because of other health issues, which is why meeting with a Doctor or Sleep Specialist is a very good idea.