June 9, 2016
Would you believe it if someone told you that sleep somehow controls your waking life? What if somebody came up to you and said that the course of our performance and public safety depends on sleep? Yes, that crucial seven-hour sleep you take every night. And what if the person who told you this is neither a juggler nor a fool, but a professional from Harvard and an authority from a health organization?
Save yourself some trouble and view this situation as a reality that you need to accept. Yes, sleep grips your life around the neck so you better be prepared to do its bidding. In fact, a good number of accidents that have happened in the past can somehow be attributed to lack of sleep. As Harvard Medical School iterated, sleep affects your mood, and your mood affects how you generally conduct yourself in a given situation. With that, it’s highly likely that poor sleep results to a negative mood, which in turn leads to a bad day. Just imagine the quality of your life if you don’t get good sleep every night.
Don’t worry, lack of sleep is not impossible to address. All you need is determination and a little bit of knowledge. The former is yours alone to cultivate, but we can help you with the latter. Here are nine of the most innocent sleep mistakes you make every day that rob you of a peaceful slumber, which can eventually ruin your lifestyle.
Everything you do is interconnected. Sleep and daily activities are more related than you think, so before you enjoy that plateful of spicy beef kebab, think how it’s going to affect your sleep first. The quantity of food you eat before bedtime is not the only issue here. Even the kinds of food you put in your mouth can also impact the quality of your sleep. Spicy food with high levels of protein that are heavy on the stomach can do you more harm than good. Better err on the safe side and take sleep-inducing food like bananas, milk, eggs, yogurt and nuts. Not only will you have a healthy meal but you will also get high-quality sleep.
You spent your entire day in front of the computer. Will you spend the precious minutes before bedtime around your gadgets, too? Lying in bed with open devices is one of the top sleep routine mistakes that most people make.
The Sleep Foundation found that 53% of teenagers who turn off their gadgets before bedtime have excellent sleep as reported by their parents. This is compared to only 27% of teenagers who leave their gadgets on and experience the same results. Science has shown time and again that light, whether natural or artificial, can disrupt your sleep cycle. Photoreceptors in the retina send light signals that alert the brain and keep it awake. Even the subtle light emitted by a small gadget like a smartphone can send the brain wrong signals. So before you go to sleep, make sure all your electronic devices are turned off.
It’s no surprise that coffee is banned before bedtime since its role is mainly as a morning stimulant. What some people mistake as a forgivable drink, however, is booze. Because alcohol causes drowsiness, some people think that it’s a good sleep inducer. Although they may be right to some extent, alcohol is still not recommended by experts because it compromises the quality of sleep. And you know how disturbed sleep can affect your lifestyle. What you can use as an alternative to coffee and alcohol are water and milk. Chamomile tea is also good, as long as you take it a few hours before bedtime. As you know, tea is diuretic so you’d be risking waking up mid-sleep to go to the restroom if you drink tea close to bedtime.
Some medications contain vitamins and other ingredients that inhibit sleep. B vitamins, for instance, can cause your energy levels to spike if you take them in significant amounts. Other medicines that can cause insomnia are those used for asthma, ADHD, depression and heart-related ailments. Even some over-the-counter pills like those for colds and allergies can contain ingredients that may obstruct sleep. If you don’t want to experience the negative effects of disturbed sleep, keep away from these meds before bedtime. Ask your doctor if you could take them in the morning instead.
Your body needs consistency. That’s a fact that you should always keep in mind. As medical doctor and psychologist Michael Breus, Ph.D., said, “If I had one sleep tip, it would be to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.” There’s a prevailing myth that says you can reclaim on weekends the sleep you’ve lost during weekdays. Medical professionals have advised against this erroneous habit over and over again. Going to bed and waking up at different times will disturb your circadian rhythm. Establish a sleep routine that you can follow strictly. Even if you’re already used to your old habits of sleeping at irregular times, you can still fix your body clock if you just adhere faithfully to a schedule.
You will find it difficult to doze off if your resting place is not conducive to sleep. There are certain factors that your room needs to meet so that it can help you achieve a sleepy state. We have already established that the room should be dark enough since light can disrupt your body clock. Apart from that, your room’s temperature should also be cool enough so it won’t collide with your body’s rising temperature as you go through the different stages of sleep. The scents in your room should also be sleep-inducing. Some of the most sleep-friendly scents are lavender, jasmine, chamomile and rose. All these are widely available in the market.
Most important of all, you should invest on a memory foam mattress to fully make your room sleep-friendly. With a memory foam made from viscoelastic material, your body can be evenly distributed as you sleep. Mattresses such as the Senso Memory Foam Original cradles the body, dramatically easing pressure to give undeniable comfort all throughout the night.
A skirmish with someone close to you will definitely keep you up all night. With bitter thoughts running inside your head, you can’t expect to calm down and enter into sleeping mode. Stress caused by little fights is one of the causes of disturbed sleep at night. That is why it is important to patch up every argument you get into before the day ends. Besides, you don’t want to wake up the next morning with a heavy feeling in your chest, do you? Making peace with your loved ones will ease your mind and make getting a good night’s sleep easier.
At least not yet. If you’ve been lying in bed for half an hour and you’re still wide awake, get up for a while and do something that will take your mind off of anything that concerns sleep. Have a relaxing bath. Read a book. Walk back and forth slowly until you feel the drowsiness kick in. Even if you’re itching to check your social media accounts and work emails, don’t. Your colleagues can wait in the morning. The effects of sleep on productivity will make your performance better the next day. Whatever anxiety you have, try to get rid of it so you can clear your mind and welcome sleep easily.
What’s the snooze button for, anyway? Why set an alarm for 7:15 a.m. if you meant to wake up at 7:30 a.m. all along? Do you think that a 15-minute interval will do you any good? Once your sleep is disrupted by the sound of an alarm, you can’t expect to fall back to sleep, especially when your body is only given a few minutes to start and finish another sleep cycle. You’re worried that you might miss anything important by not waking up on time, but the effects of less sleep on efficiency could actually be more drastic. Give your body the rest that it needs. If you set an alarm, heed to it. You’ll get the hang of it eventually.
How often do you get a good night’s rest? If it’s more like a luxury than a daily setup for you, then you need help. Follow what professionals recommend and look for other proactive ways that can help you experience better sleep. Don’t shrug off insomnia. In the long run, the quality of your sleep can change your life for better or for worse.