Let’s face it: there’s a case to be made that we are busier now, and the modern era, then at most other times in history this might come as a shock at first – given that in the past, food wasn’t so readily available and we had to hunt throughout the day to get our brain-sustaining meat.
However, there’s a reason that life in modern cities is called a rat-race. When you take into account the fact that work takes up the bulk of your waking hours, and then family takes up the rest, it’s easy to see how most of us simply aren’t getting enough sleep. This, despite the fact that doctors stress the importance of sleep in helping to regulate all facets of your bodily functions.
What, Exactly, Does Sleep Do?
The short answer is – everything. Not only does adequate sleep allow you to bolster your ability to remember things, your brain does a wonderful job of vacuuming all the useless details that do nothing other than clutter up your brain for the high-powered thinking you need the next day. It’s been said that the body heals from injuries nearly twice as fast in your sleep – which is why any doctor worth the title often recommends plenty of rest for her patients. Here’s a short run down of some of the most essential benefits that proper sleep will have for the human body:
- Sleep enhances your memory, and also primes your body to be more productive the next day
- Lack of sleep can compromise the function of your immune system; this manifest itself as you becoming sick more easily as well as more often
- Studies have tied sleep deprivation with an increase in your risk of getting diabetes and heart disease – and also can exacerbate these preexisting conditions
- Adequate sleep helps regulate important hormones, as well as appetite; sleep deprivation can cause a surprising amount of weight gain
- Not surprisingly, not getting enough sleep can have serious effects on your mood – increased irritability and short-temperedness are common results
In addition to the quick run-down above, sleep deprivation has been known to cause an increase in accidents on the road. You’ve certainly heard the public service announcement advising drivers to pull over on the side of the road to take a nap if they feel tired. Yet another adverse effect that will negatively affect relationships is lowered sex drive. Yes – not getting enough sleep will affect both your desire and ability to perform. In men, in particular, sleep deprivation can result in lower testosterone levels, which is the hormone that is responsible for libido.
What Can You Do to Help Your Sleep Schedule
First, you should start with the basics: prepare your room to be an environment that is conducive to rest and sleep. Most rooms these days have an assortment of computer and electronics devices; it is important that you minimize the otherwise ever-present flash of LED lights at night. If you read in bed, look for the “blue-screen” option that is easier on the eyes. Give yourself 30 minutes to wind down after reading, so that your brain can slowly drift off and leave the concerns of life for the next day. It is a worthwhile investment to get the best mattress that is in line with your budget; sleep is important enough to spend a little extra in this endeavor. After all, the mattress will last you for a number of years.
During the day, avoid drinking caffeine and energy drinks after the early afternoon hours; it takes your body about eight hours to reliably get rid of any residual caffeine. Therefore, if you go to be at midnight, your final cup of coffee should have been downed before 4 pm. If you indulge in naps, limit them to less than 30 minutes, and don’t take naps after about 3 pm. Although exercise can be a great boost in this helping you get to sleep that night; it’s important that you avoid it for up to four hours before bedtime so that your body can wind down enough.
If getting to sleep for long enough is a struggle for you, remember to start slow. The above tips are just a start; find ways to get it done. Sleep isn’t an option – it’s a necessity. You will see your life improve in a multitude of ways when you start getting the shut-eye that your body deserves.
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