American's are sleep-deprived; we are so tired that one of the most common health problems affecting the average adult is chronic sleep deprivation. Adults need about 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night, but most people average less than 6 hours due to our fast-paced society. We cram our schedules so tight that sleep becomes a luxury, and yet for our bodies to be healthy, our brains need rest.
I have never needed a lot of sleep, I average about 3-5 hours a night, and this sleep pattern has been with me since I was a kid. Now, some days the coffee cup has to be extra large when I feel groggy, and my productivity is low due to sleep deprivation. Naturally, I have concerns that I am not experiencing deep and REM sleep; I know that is very important as your body is repairing cells, consolidating memories and fragments from your day, and building up muscle tissue. My Doctor conducted a few tests as concluded that I was healthy and if I can function on minimal sleep, continue doing so. He did recommend I try Polyphasic Sleep, where you add three naps a day into your schedule. Seriously, who has time for three naps a day when you're continually watching the clock as beads of sweat appear when time evaporates.
I find it very hard to turn off my thoughts, and out of pure desperation, I sought ways to unwind, allowing myself a dedicated one hour for me!
My nightly routine begins with turning off all notifications, then opening an app called Calm. It reminds me to switch off an hour before bedtime, and I then switch off my laptop, tidy up, and start shutting down for the night. It has calming music, guided mediation, sounds of nature, a master class featuring mindfulness experts, and my favorite, bedtime stories narrated by top psychologists, athletics, celebrities, etc.
If your mind's too preoccupied, sleep is usually the first thing to go. You find yourself lying awake in bed, thinking, "Why can't I sleep?" you're not alone. It's common for people to wake up once or twice during the night, but many people find themselves counting the hours away as they lie awake in bed, unable to fall asleep. Unfortunately, even with meditation or relaxation techniques, you could be making it worse by trying to force sleep, watching the minutes slip away.
Not to stress you out, but stress is one of the main reasons people have broken sleep. By not sleeping, your stress hormones are flying through the roof. This cycle continues as it's difficult to fall asleep when something is troubling you. Stress, anxiety, depression, grief, worry, and anger are common causes of insufficient shut-eye.
Many people don't realize how electronic devices affect sleep, bodies, and our brains' health. Almost every type of tissue and system in the body is affected by a lack of sleep. Some health conditions or the use of medications can interfere with sleep quality by suppressing the REM sleep cycle, the stages of sleep that heal and repair our bodies, blood vessels, and cells.
Getting adequate sleep is essential, yet it may depend on our internal body clock, letting us. Located in the brain, the 'clock' coordinates with other functions within the body. The Circadian rhythm is a 24-hour sleep-wake cycle that helps regulate functions such as sleep, body temperature, hormone levels, light and dark responses, and cycling between sleepiness and alertness.
Most people like to wind down an hour before bed by watching TV or scrolling on their phones, without realizing they're stimulating their brain.
Studies have shown that being exposed to the blue light from electronic devices suppresses melatonin that prolongs falling sleep. Technology dominates our day-to-day life, but you can make positive changes by control the use of the electronic device before bedtime.
There are steps you can take to practice mindfulness by creating space for yourself before hitting the sack or enjoying an old-fashioned book under lamplight.
- Create a new bedtime routine
- Initiating a digital curfew
- Create a serene bedroom environment
- Craft a pre-bedtime routine
- Prepare tomorrow's to-do-list
- Cultivate peace and quiet
- Keep a sleep diary
- Set a wake-up time
- If you're restless, get up and reset.
- Being physically active
- Sticking to a regular sleep schedule
- Avoiding taking naps during the day
- Staying off caffeine in the evening hours
If you're restless, don't lie in bed, tossing and turning. Get up, and practice a few minutes of deep breathing or meditation, allowing your mind to reset.
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