Sleep is a great way for your mind and body to reset and give you energy for the next day. In these uncertain times understandably it can be difficult to achieve the optimum amount of sleep. The Sleep Health Foundation recommends that adults obtain seven to nine hours of sleep per day.
The Impact of Lack of Sleep
Not enough sleep can negatively impact your mental and physical health. Lack of sleep can alter your mood significantly causing you to feel drowsy, tired or irritable. Sleep deprivation is linked to anxiety and even depression. You are less likely to want to be social with people. You may feel as though you don’t have the energy required to engage with other people. Not spending time with others can make you feel lonely or even depressed. Fatigue can be dangerous when operating machinery or driving. If you are feeling sleepy, stop immediately and rest. Hormone levels become erratic increasing your appetite, causing a lack of energy leading to weight gain making you predisposed to diabetes.
Sleep lowers blood pressure, without it your pressure stays higher for a longer period causing high blood pressure putting you at risk of heart disease or stroke. Without sleep, your immune system can become weakened. During the sleep cycle, the immune system releases proteins called cytokines that fight infections. A lack of sleep decreases the release and production of cytokines making you more likely to be affected by viruses and take longer to recover if you are unwell. These conditions can compound and continue to disrupt your sleep throughout the night. If you find yourself waking up tired or feeling sleepy during the day, your sleep may be interrupted by a problem known as obstructive sleep apnoea.
How to Achieve Sleep Naturally
Here are seven simple and effective ways to achieve sleep so you can tackle whatever life throws at you.
- Create a sleep routine. Scheduling your sleep helps your mind and body get into a healthy pattern that you can set your watch to.
- Create a calm sleeping environment. Remove things that are going to be distractions, work, phones, and TVs are good examples. Draw your curtains closed, use an eyemask and even earplugs to help reduce surrounding stimuli for the brain. Try to have the temperature below twenty degrees; as this also gives your body an indication that it is time to sleep.
- Powering down devices such as phones and laptops two hours before going to bed. These devices can emit a blue light, which lowers your levels of melatonin, a hormone that makes us feel sleepy. But if you need to use your device before bed, consider purchasing blue light blocking glasses to limit your exposure.
- Reduce your caffeinated drinks, sodas, and energy drinks in the afternoon. A switch to decaf or water can help your body detox so that when it’s time to sleep you’re not fighting the added effect of sugar, caffeine, and mysterious ingredients that can keep you up for days.
- Exercising for as little as 30 minutes a day can help your body cement it’s routine. Something as simple as walking also can help reduce blood pressure and stress and is definitely a step in the right direction.
- Try breathing and meditation. Simple breathing techniques used in mindfulness practices can have a calming effect and can help distract your mind from your ultimate goal, which is sleep.
- A relaxing bath. Making this part of your nighttime routine will boost your body temperature, so when you dry off, you’ll quickly cool down, which can help bring on that drowsy feeling, and then you’re halfway there.
Sleep is important and creating routines for your mind and body can achieve a lot in relieving symptoms of stress, anxiety, and fatigue. If you’re still struggling to get a good night’s sleep, make an appointment with your health provider to discuss alternative sleep strategies.