When it comes to living healthy and feeling good, few things are more important than sleep. But if you’re like millions of Americans, this is one area of your life where you’re lacking. Turning things around in this department could give you significant advantages.
The Benefits of Adequate Sleep
As Americans, we seem to like the idea of sleep more than sleep itself. We love sleeping in the morning, but we have a hard time getting to bed early enough to get adequate shut-eye. While doctors recommend somewhere around seven or eight hours of sleep per night, most adults are lucky to get six hours. That’s unfortunate – especially when you consider benefits like:
- Improved immune system functioning and the ability to fight off colds and flu.
- Decreased production of ghrelin and leptin, which make it easier to keep off the pounds.
- Improved emotional well-being and stable moods.
- Better heart health and lower blood pressure.
- Increased daytime productivity.
- Superior exercise performance.
- Improved memory and daytime focus.
Sleep isn’t always the most exciting topic, but it’s one of the most integral elements of your health. Learn to prioritize sleep and your physical and mental health will thank you.
4 Tips for Better Sleep
Need better quality sleep? Here are some tips you can use to ensure you’re getting the most out of your shut-eye:
1. Get Better Daytime Habits
Just like sleep sets you up for success during the day, how you spend your day sets you up for success at night. If you want to fall asleep quickly and stay asleep, there are some steps you can take to refine your daytime habits.
For starters, you should never take a nap after 3 p.m. (And never nap longer than 20 minutes during the day.) Secondly, be smart about your intake of caffeine. While there’s nothing wrong with a cup or two of coffee in the morning, avoid caffeine intake in the afternoon and evening hours. Likewise, alcohol should be limited. Leave at least two hours between your last drink and your bedtime.
Another good tip is to reduce screen time and blue light exposure, so as to prevent issues with melatonin secretion (which plays a key role in helping you fall asleep). If you must spend time in front of a computer, use blue light glasses to protect your eyes as much as possible.
2. Improve Your Nightly Routine
There’s a reason we create bedtime routines for young children. It’s not about being in control – it’s about priming their little brains to enter into sleep mode. It’s important that we, as adults, do the same.
A consistent nightly routine signals to your brain that it’s time to shut down and prepare for sleep. The details of your routine are less important than consistency. It should be orderly and predictable.
3. Get Relaxed
If you’re someone who is prone to stress and anxiety, you’ll need to find ways to calm your nerves and get relaxed prior to bedtime. You must cue your brain to stop processing unnecessary information.
Everyone has a preferred method of relaxation. Some like meditation or reading, while others like tactical activities like simple puzzles or hobbies (knitting, drawing, etc.). Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) is another option.
While technology is typically not advisable before bed, VNS is different. It’s performed using Neuvana’s Xen headphones, which are connected to your smartphone.
“The headphones work to deliver electrical signals to your vagus nerve so you can receive vagus nerve stimulation,” Neuvana explains. “This stimulation helps you to calm down and recover from stress, which ultimately leads to a good night’s sleep.”
While it’s not recommended to fall asleep with VNS, it’s a great option to use right before getting in bed.
4. Practice Better Sleep Hygiene
A proper sleep environment goes a long way in helping you fall asleep and stay asleep. As a general rule of thumb, aim for:
- Total darkness
- Total silence (unless you need white noise to drown out other sounds)
- Cool temperature
- Proper mattress and pillow support
If you get these elements right, you’ll enjoy better sleep on a nightly basis.
Stop Short Changing Yourself
You might think you’re increasing your productivity and happiness by staying up late at night, but in reality, you’re only hurting yourself. By increasing your quantity and quality of sleep, you can improve your health and live a more focused life.