Are you getting enough sleep? We know it’s hard to fit in a full 8 hours every day with busy schedules, constant distractions, and the stress of life – but that doesn’t make it any less important to our health than eating our vegetables or getting enough exercise!
According to worldsleepday.org, “getting 7 to 8 hours of sleep tonight might be the most important thing we can do to improve our future physical and mental health” (Dr. Erik St. Louis, Co-Director of the Mayo Center for Sleep Medicine); with children needing even more than that for optimal development.
What’s the Science?
Sleep isn’t just a time that we completely shut down; on the contrary, our mind and bodies are very active during these 8 hours (National Sleep Foundation). What are our bodies actually doing though? Here’s a list:
- Solidifying and consolidating memories; improving our ability to retain information over time and perform well on memory tasks.
- Improving our metabolic health, which helps us maintain healthy muscle strength and reduces fatty weight gain.
- Clearing metabolic “waste” from the brain that we accumulate daily; helping us think more clearly.
Needing a full night’s sleep doesn’t mean we’re lazy; it means we are productive and healthy! For World Sleep Day this week, we’ve collated our very own list of do’s and don’ts for maintaining good sleep hygiene!
Do Not: Drink caffeine in the evening
According to the NHS, caffeine not only makes it hard to fall asleep, but it can also make it more difficult to stay asleep. Try to limit caffeinated drinks like tea, coffee, and soda, especially in the evening!
Do: Drink herbal teas or water instead
We know we should all be drinking more water in general, but if you enjoy drinking something else in the evening, try chamomile or decaf green tea. Both are great for you health and both can help you feel snoozy.
Do Not: Spend long periods of time on your phone or tablet in bed
We’re all guilty of it; spending hours on social media or catching up on emails to get a head start on the next day. But, our body’s exposure to artificial light can interrupt our circadian rhythm; making it difficult to get quality sleep.
Do: Practice self-care before bed
What else can we do? If you’re not on your phone or tablet, it’s the perfect opportunity to practice self-care! Read a book, reflect in a journal, take a bath, stretch your body, or spend quality, relaxing time with your friends and family, the list goes on! These are all great alternatives to spending hours isolated on your phone or tablet. This article has several other self-care ideas for helping you sleep.
Do not: Work or study right before you go to sleep
Sometimes our schedules are so busy that we “treat” ourselves to working in bed late at night in order to meet a deadline. But be careful not to make a habit of this every night. Over time, working in bed can make us even more anxious and stressed out before the next day has even started!
Do: Make your room a peaceful sleeping environment
Treat your room and your bed like a sleeping sanctuary. Remove all distractions, potential stressors, and make sure your bed is cool and comfy. Ensuring you have a peaceful sleeping environment can help you mentally get in the right “zone” for sleep. For even more tips on how to create a healthy sleeping environment, check out our previous blog article on sleep.
Want more resources?
Here’s a few resources we recommend for helping you improve your sleep!
- The Mental Health Foundation – Article on sleeping better
- The NHS – “10 Tips to Beating Insomnia”
- Healthline.com – Recommended apps for helping you sleep
Don’t forget, World Sleep Day is March 15! Celebrate by setting a goal to get a full 8 hours of sleep that day.
The Lily-Jo Project.
Written and Edited by: Shelby Hale