For many people, being healthy means eating well and exercising regularly. But one part of the equation for a healthy body is missing – and that’s adequate sleep each night. If you miss out on a good night’s sleep, you’ll be drowsy the next day. You’ll risk not performing as well at work or at school, and you could end up with poor health.
But here’s something else to consider: according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, drivers who only sleep five or six hours in a 24-hour period are twice as likely to become involved in a car crash as those who get a minimum of seven hours of sleep. And the less sleep you get, the more likely you’ll end up in an accident.
Why Sleep is So Important
Your body needs its sleep! It gives your brain, organs and muscles a chance to recover from a lot of activity that occurred during the day. Plus, it plays an important role in combating the signs of aging and healing. And a lack of sleep can lead to obesity as well. As you sleep, your brain is working on creating new neural pathways to help you remember events and learn new information.
Your heart and blood vessels heal and are repaired during sleep. And adequate sleep is needed in order for you to pay attention, make good decisions and solve problems. It also makes you think creatively.
But it’s not just your physical wellbeing that’s at risk with lack of sleep. Your emotional health is in jeopardy as well. Lack of sleep is closely linked to depression and being able to interact with other people.
Another problem is how lack of sleep impacts your sex drive. One study of over 93,000 women found that the better a woman sleeps, the higher her sex drive is. And that goes for men as well – men with lack of sleep have much lower levels of testosterone, and that means their sex drive is poor.
Ways to Get Better Sleep
One of the best ways to get the good night’s sleep you need is to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. This will set up your body’s “sleep clock” – or circadian rhythm. This means not sleeping longer on weekends! If you do take naps, make sure they’re short ones – only 15-20 minutes, or you may not be able to fall asleep at night.
Other tips for getting quality sleep at night include spending more time in daylight. Exercise outdoors if you can, and expose yourself to as much daylight at work or at home as possible. Speaking of exercise, avoid it for at least 2-3 hours before bedtime. Otherwise it’ll interfere with falling asleep.
Don’t look at a computer, TV or tablet screens for 2-hours prior to going to sleep. The blue light from these devices can disrupt your sleep or even prevent you from falling asleep. If you read before bed, use a lamp and a book – not a device. Make sure your room is dark, sleep in a comfortable bed and keep the temperature of your bedroom on the cool side.
Don’t eat large meals or drink alcohol too close to bedtime. Both can mess up your sleep cycle after you fall asleep. Try to relax for at least an hour before your bedtime. If you’re having trouble falling asleep, you could try deep breathing, meditation or listening to soft music.
How Much Sleep Do You Need?
Listen to your body – if you wake up tired or you’re feeling tired during the day, you’re not getting enough sleep. Kids who are 3-5 years old need 10-13 hours of sleep each night. Children 6-13 need about 9-11 hours of sleep, and teenagers need 8-9 hours.
Young adults and adults need 7-9 hours of shuteye every night. And older adults can get by with 7-8 hour per night. Nothing less than 7 hours will do! Follow these tips and you’ll get the sleep you need, wake up refreshed and ready to take on the day!
Image Credit: Jellaluna | Flickr