I love sleeping. My life has a tendency to fall apart when I’m awake, you know?” -Ernest Hemingway
How do you sleep? Do you sleep like a baby? Are you a sound sleeper who wakes up feeling refreshed and energized each and every morning? Do you have difficulty falling asleep? Do you get to sleep but still wake up groggy or tired? Do you have insomnia or some other sleep disorder? We all know that sleep is important to a healthy and happy lifestyle. We’ve been hearing it since we were kids, get plenty of sleep, eat right and exercise regularly. But just how important is sleep really?
We all need our rest. Studies have shown that most of us need between 7 to 8 hours of restful sleep each night. Our mental wellness depends on it. Those of us who regularly get the proper amount of sleep tend to live healthier, longer lives (up to 7 years) than those who get too few or too many hours of sleep. Sound Sleep is a vital ingredient. There’s nothing quite as bad as a horrible night sleep or worse yet several bad nights and beginning the following day feeling out of sorts, tired, groggy, forgetful or just plain crabby, not only for the sleep deprived but others around them. Inadequate sleep directly affects the way we interact with others and can create tension and put a strain on our interpersonal relationships. Nothing as bad waking up to a sleep deprived, moody grump or getting to work and finding him there! I’m pretty sure we’ve all been that guy at some point in time. Yeah, sleepless nights make for terrible days.
Okay, so a good night’s sleep helps us stay mentally fit, can add years to our lives, affects our mood in a positive way by reducing stress and allows us to interact with others (especially those closest to us) more easily. All very good reasons for getting the proper amount of sleep each night, but it doesn’t stop there, restful sleep does even more. A good nights sleep can help make our immune system stronger, making us less prone to illness, aid our memory and cognitive function, and even help our eyesight. In addition, good sleep reduces our chances of heart attack and stroke, assist in maintaining our weight and even reducing our chances of getting diabetes.
Sleep, a function we spend a third of our lives doing, is more important than many people realize. The benefits of getting a good night sleep on a regular basis are overwhelming. The key is in developing a routine and creating the proper conditions that allow you to get the sleep you need each and every night. You can’t skimp on sleep during the week and think you can catch up on the weekends, it doesn’t work. A good night’s sleep has to be a part of your everyday routine and you may have to make a few changes if you want to reap its rewards. So I ask again, “how do you sleep?”
If you’re not getting the sleep you need there are several things you need to look at and make the necessary changes that will ensure a healthy night’s rest. Perhaps you’re too tense to fall asleep or just can’t seem to switch off your mind. You lie there thinking for what seems like forever, tossing and turning. The bed is not a think tank. Its not the place to rehash the day’s events or plan tomorrows. You should learn to associate the bed with sleep nothing more. Okay, it can also be associated to one other activity as well but it is not the place for deep thinking. Train yourself to do this thinking earlier in the evening and elsewhere. In time you’ll see a difference. Maybe you fall asleep right away but wake up far too early. Some people seem to sleep soundly, but wake up feeling unrefreshed and tired all day. No matter what your situation there is a solution, you can get the healthy sleep you need.
Sometimes the solution is easy particularly if you are sleeping but are still tired. In this case, the problem is more than likely environmental. Something is disturbing your sleep but not enough to wake you. The cause could be your mattress, pillow, the position you sleep in, or even the room temperature, factors that can be easily changed or adjusted, and easily identified through a process of elimination. Check your mattress, is it too soft, too firm? Does it sag? Is your pillow supportive? If not, make the necessary changes. A sure sign of a poor mattress or pillow is waking up in the morning with aches and pains.
If you can’t sleep because your too tense or can’t seem to shut down the thought process there are things you can do to bring on sleep. You can begin by avoiding anything that may be emotionally upsetting or exciting at bedtime include watching television, listening to the news and even reading. These activities fire up the awake system and can cause muscle tension and stress making relaxation and sleep difficult. To combat this stress there are progressive relaxation techniques that are easy to learn and can be used at bedtime. These techniques work. I use them when needed and they do the job.
If we want to live a happier, healthier and longer life, and who doesn’t, we have to get our sleep and have to do it consistently.Our bodies rely on the sleep process to function optimally. It is essential that we make restful, healthful sleep a top priority in our lives. There’s a lot to be said about the need for getting our “beauty sleep” nightly. Life can be beautiful. Sleep well…
Just a Thought