Going to bed early was once considered a childhood punishment but has now become my penultimate adult goal because now we know The importance of sleep and why you need to get enough of it. I am going to start this article by putting my hand up and admit, off the bat, that I am a night owl.
I need to force myself to go to bed before 11 pm even though I know full well that I will feel a thousand times better if I get the full eight and a half hours of sleep that my body desperately craves.
The importance of sleep and why you need to get enough of it
However, not unlike many women, I wear a myriad of hats in my house. I am a mom, a wife, a business owner, a dog feeder, a cook, a baker, a candlestick maker. OK, so the last one isn’t exactly accurate but you get my drift.
My days are filled with a wide variety of tasks that take concentration and stamina, all of which are better done after a good night of slumber. Regardless, I can’t seem to get enough Zzzzzs and I’m not exactly sure why.
I am a self-professed nerd. So, rather than listening to my body and going to bed when I know I should, I stayed up late and researched the topic of sleep.
In this article, I’m going to tell you what I found out about the importance of sleep and why I need to put a stop to the midnight Candy Crush obsession.
Why is sleep so important?
There is a reason that sleep deprivation is considered a form of torture. I remind my friends of this every time that they have a new baby and wonder why they are silently weeping over their cold cup of coffee. Sleep improves our basic brain functions including our concentration, productivity and cognition.
If you ask any teacher how you can give your kids the best chance at school then their answer will be simple: sleep! This is also the case for adults, but we just don’t have the luxury of a loving figure looming over us every evening making sure that we are washed, brushed and tucked up in bed.
Sleep is not just for shutting down our brain and body. Sleep is important for consolidating our memories and rejuvenating our physical self.
Scientists are still not certain on exactly how and why our bodies need to sleep for so long but there is no doubt of sleep’s importance.
There is scientific evidence that sleep can lower your risk of gaining weight and your propensity to consume fewer calories during the following day. The only indication of this in my life is that if I’m in bed, then I’m too far away from the kitchen to eat anything and if I’m asleep, then my caloric intake really should be decreasing.
Poor sleep is linked to depression. Now, I know that depression is no laughing matter and I have had my own run-ins with the dark cloud that looms in and out of my life. This benefit of sleep is something that I can vouch for.
The conundrum comes from the fact that too little sleep is as much a precursor to depression as too much sleep, so it is a fine balance that is different from person to person.
As a newborn, we need about 14-17 hours of sleep every day. As a parent, I can guarantee you that I’m going to use all of my superhuman powers to ensure that happens. By the time that your kid reaches school age, they will likely be on about 9-12 hours of sleep.
As an adult, our need drops to a meagre 7-9 hours. With such a relatively low need for sleep, why are adults not getting enough of it?
What you can do to assist in getting a good night’s sleep
For a variety of reasons, adults are not getting the sleep that their body requires for physical and mental health wellbeing. How can we improve the situation though? I don’t want to only sleep more, but to be more rested when I wake up in the morning.
I have always looked at morning people with awe. How is it that they can hop out of bed with more energy than a five-year-old after consuming a bag of Skittles? Perhaps they have already read through the below top tips for a good night’s sleep.
Don’t sleep in
If you want to sleep better every night, then you need to start by not hitting the snooze button every morning.
Have a bedtime
Your kids have an age-appropriate bedtime for a reason and you should too.
Have a bedtime routine
Every parent will tell you the benefits of a strict bedtime routine. This also works for adults – bathe, brush your teeth, read a story, lights out. Make it your own but stick to it.
Avoid the screens
You know the benefits of limiting screen time for your kids and you should be no different. Don’t have a TV in your room and avoid watching TV or being on your phone late at night.
The right bed
My husband and I finally splurged on an amazingly firm mattress last year and I really do not understand how we lived without this bed for so long. I never realized how often I would wake in the middle of the night just because I felt him rollover. We sleep for a third of every day, invest in that time.
Void caffeine and alcohol
OK, this one gave me a bit of a panic attack so I’ll just leave this one here for you to ponder.
Have a dinner time
If you want a good night of sleep then avoid eating late at night, especially if it is a heavy, rich meal.
Burn off some energy
Tire yourself out a bit and get in your 10,000 steps. Ensure that you are active but try not to exercise within a few hours of going to bed.
Talk about it
Stress is one of the biggest complications to getting a night of restful sleep and being tired adds to your stress so the cycle continues. Talk it out, tell people what is going on with your life and accept help when you need it.
After doing all of my research on how to get a good night’s sleep, I have realized that what I really need is to be six years old again and have my mom telling me when it is time to go to bed, time to get up and when I should go and play outside rather than staring at my phone and answering emails.
Since that is unlikely to happen, I am going to put down my phone now and make myself a nice cup of herbal tea and have a bath. Good night!