We’ve all heard horror stories about what happens when people don’t get enough sleep.
This isn’t just about yawning at work when the boss is looking. There are many physical and mental health conditions associated with sleep deprivation, including heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, angina and stroke.
How you feel during the day is often a direct result of how long and how well you slept the previous night. Sleep affects your thinking process, your alertness and reaction times, your ability to focus on problems, and even your mood and how well you get along with other people.
A proper amount of sleep helps you pay attention better, make logical decisions and be creative when necessary. Tired people assume they can drive as well as they do when they’re wide awake. But studies have proven that drowsy drivers don’t drive all that much better than drunk drivers. Driver sleepiness is a factor in an estimated 100,000 car accidents annually, resulting in approximately 1,500 deaths.
OK, so how can we get more – and better quality – sleep each night? Well, I’m glad you asked. Here are a few suggestions:
- Exercise daily. In addition to all the other benefits that come with regular exercise, it will tire out your body to the point where it is ready to completely relax when you lie down in bed.
- Use caffeine and alcohol only in moderation. Too much caffeine will keep you awake, while too much alcohol will limit the REM sleep you need.
- Try to sleep during consistent hours. If you can go to bed and get up at roughly the same times most days, your body will be ready to sleep and wake up when it needs to.
- Take a warm bath before you go to bed some nights. The warmth will relax your body’s muscles.
- Make your bedroom as dark as possible, perhaps with black blinds.
- Keep the temperature at a level that is conducive to sleep. Slightly cooler than the rest of the house works best for most people.
- Get the TV out of the bedroom. Even a mindless sitcom can stimulate the brain and keep you awake after your turn the TV off.