If you’re reading this, odds are you’re at your desk or wrapping up another long week on the grind. We can’t really think of a sleepier place come 3pm. When that afternoon slump hits, you find yourself wishing for nap time. Then, when you get into bed at night, sleep becomes elusive. What’s the deal? And is sleep that important?
YES. Seriously, getting sufficient sleep is one of the best things you can do for your body and your mind. We have not 1, but 6 reasons why. It is linked to:
1. Better productivity
2. A stronger immune system
3. Reduced inflammation
4. Healthy weight maintenance
5. Reduced risk of heart disease and stroke
6. Improved mental health
Not bad for something that requires literally zero energy. The trick isn’t just hitting that 7-hour mark (the minimum sleep recommendation for healthy adults from the National Sleep Foundation). On top of getting enough rest, you need to make sure you’re getting good rest.
It all comes down to sleep stages. There are four:
Non-rapid eye movement (NREM) 1: It usually takes about 10 minutes for your body to get through this first stage of light sleep.
NREM 2: This usually lasts about 20 minutes, your heart rate slows and your body temperature drops.
NREM 3: This is your deepest sleep. Your muscles relax and your blood pressure drops.
Rapid eye movement (REM): Starts after you’ve been asleep for 90 minutes. And this is where the magic happens: you start dreaming. Your brain activity picks up as your body stays relaxed.
In a good night’s sleep, your body should move back and forth between stages about 5 times. A lot of waking up, trouble falling asleep, or late bedtimes can all cramp your ability to get the sleep you need. So rest up!
- Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. If you do, your circadian rhythm will make it easier to fall asleep quickly and sleep soundly.
- Use a sound machine, ear plugs, or an eye mask. Use whatever you need to block out distractions to enjoy uninterrupted shuteye
- Set up a bedtime ritual removing any screen time (we’re looking at you, Instagram). That pesky blue light makes it hard for your brain to power down. In fact, consider keeping the TV and your phone out of the bedroom entirely so your body associates your bedroom with sleep instead of work and Netflix.
- Consider setting an alarm before bed to remind you to start winding down.
- Keep your room cool.
- Get in some physical activity. Regular exercise is linked to improved sleep, but not too close to bed time!
- We’re off to buy lavender tea and a cozy blanket for our nighttime ritual. Happy sleeping!
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