Getting a good night’s sleep is vastly important for your physical and mental health. Sleep holds a number of positive health benefits. Luckily, if you are struggling with sleep, there are a number of different strategies and lifestyle changes that you can make to help improve both quantity and quality of sleep.
Benefits of Sleep
Sleep holds a long list of benefits that can improve your physical health, mental functioning, and overall mood. Some of the benefits that come from sleep include:
Improved Cognitive Functioning — Through a process called memory consolidation, sleep helps the brain commit new information to memory. Studies have shown that people who’d slept after learning a task did better on tests later. In general, sleep can help with learning and memory skills.
Weight Control — Sleep deprivation can cause weight gain as it affects the way that our bodies store and process carbohydrates. It can also affect our appetites by altering hormone levels.
Safety — Unfortunately, if someone is not getting enough sleep it can cause them to fall asleep during the daytime which can actually increase the risk of problems like falls and other problems. This can lead to problems like medical errors, air traffic mishaps, and road accidents.
Mood Improvements — Sleep loss can cause mood problems and lead to issues like irritability, impatience, inability to concentrate, and moodiness. Too little sleep can cause you to feel too tired to do things that you normally enjoy. Skipping out on things that you like can cause you to miss out on the social benefits associated with things like hobbies, this can work to exacerbate your problems and make them worse.
Cardiovascular Health — According to Harvard, serious sleep disorders have been linked to a number of cardiovascular problems such as hypertension, increased stress hormone levels, and irregular heartbeat.
Immune Functioning — Sleep deprivation is associated with alterations in immune functioning and can cause your body to not be as effective in fighting off diseases.
Tips To Improve Sleep
It is recommended that adults get somewhere between 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. There are a number of small lifestyle changes that you can make to improve your sleep schedule and circadian rhythm. To help improve these things follow a few of these steps:
Follow A Schedule — One of the easiest ways that you can improve your sleep and get good quality sleep is to create a schedule for youself and stick to it. Go to sleep and get up at the same time each day, even on the weekends or while you are on vacation. This will work to get your circadian rhythm working properly.
Avoid Late-Day Naps — Napping in the late afternoon or evening can interfere with your ability to fall and stay asleep. While naps can help to keep you fresh and rejuvenated, just be sure that you are taking them early in the day as it can keep you awake at night.
Create A Bedtime Routine — There are a number of different soothing and relaxing things that you can do before bed to help induce sleep. For example, reading a book, listening to relaxing music, or taking a bath can all help you calm down and improve your ability to fall and stay asleep.
Avoid Screens — If you are trying to fall asleep, technology and screens can impede this process. Using television, your computer, or your phone before you go to bed can make it difficult for you to fall asleep. Moreover, movies that are unsettling, such as horror movies, can keep you awake.
Don’t Use Alcohol — Alcohol is one substance that can make sleeping a problem. While alcohol may be able to help induce sleep, it can get in the way of staying asleep. Alcohol can lead to a number of health issues and can cause addiction. Luckily there are a number of resources available to help you learn how to stop drinking. 12-step programs and treatment centers can help you overcome these issues.