Instead of why you need to sleep, this could just as easily be called, just what are the benefits of having a good night’s sleep? This can be summed up as follows:
- You are more productive when you are well rested.
- You are more focused when you have had a good night’s sleep.
- You are more likely to be successful if you are more focused.
It might seem strange to include these in the introduction, as they are indeed amongst the benefits of having a good night’s sleep, but we must also explore the techniques and other ideas to enable us to rest comfortably so that when we awake we do so refreshed and ready to face another day full of vigour.
Some of the details which follow are taken from a book which I am writing on sleep.
A lot of people do not realise that if we sleep for eight hours every night, it decreases the risks of being diagnosed with or getting:
- Type II Diabetes
- Cardiovascular Disease
I mentioned above that you are more productive if you get a good nights sleep, I would suggest that getting a good nights sleep to increase your productivity, is probably the last thing on your mind.
You will be aware that to create for yourself a productive and healthy lifestyle you need to:
- Eat the right foods
- Exercise in moderation
- Remember to stay hydrate, to this you must add,
- Get a goodnight’s sleep
As well as the physical health benefits of a good night’s sleep, it will also:
- Improve your memory
- Improve your mood
- Very importantly reduce your stress levels.
When I was researching for this article, I found it hard to believe that having a goodnight’s sleep could help you become healthier, reduce your stress levels and even help you to lose weight. It really is amazing what a good solid sleep will do for you.
Just How Much Sleep Do We Need?
This is indeed a very good question, a lot of people manage to cope with six hours of sleep each night. However, the average adult needs between seven to nine hours. If you are getting enough sleep you should be able to drop off within twenty minutes of going to bed. When the alarm goes off you should be wide awake within twenty minutes, ready to face whatever the day may bring, be refreshed and able to cope with the days challenges.
It would surprise me, if the comments that I made in the above paragraph, do not raise a smile, or even full-blown laughter. It is not difficult to imagine you saying, wide awake within twenty minutes of waking up. More like another half hour cuddled up in my duvet, or when I am nearly late dashing for the shower totally bleary-eyed.
Sorry can only tell you what the wonderful medics at these sleep schools tell us, not forgetting other researchers, however I am in grave danger of digressing so will move on, after all this is meant to be an article, not a book.
Are You Losing Quality Sleep
Just what is quality sleep? Another question do you think that you sleep well enough? Some nights I sleep like a baby, waking up refreshed after some six or seven hours sleep. The first thing that you will say is but you say we need eight hours of sleep, (that is an average from the above paragraph, and a common myth). True but I had a baby stroke many years ago and find that as I get older, when able, I need a rest in the afternoons, this usually turns out to be a good solid hour. So I cheat and add them together.
It is important that however long you sleep for, that you feel totally refreshed when you wake up.
This morning I was awake at around six, at seven I was still awake, must point out since we are now both in our seventies that around eight is our normal time for rising, the wife went to the bathroom, next news it was eight, I had dropped off for another hour, guess what I felt great. It does not matter that it was a fragmented sleep, what mattered was when I finally woke, I felt great.
However, this article is not about me, but helping you to sleep better. There are a number of simple things hat you can change to help you get that better night’s sleep.
Here are five ideas to help you:
- Not sleeping in total darkness: Do you sleep with the light on? or with one of those items described as a night light? If so it is possible that this could be causing you a problem in your attempts to sleep well. Your body’s natural circadian rhythm could be disrupted by being exposed to light. When you are in the dark a neurotransmitter hormone produces melatonin, this helps to produce a deep and restful sleep. When your body is exposed to artificial light, this chemical is broken, this prevents you from experiencing a really deep sleep and its restorative effects. If you do sleep with added light, try to darken the room as much as possible, after a week you should be able to feel the effects.
- Are You Often Disturbed By Sound? OK, your room is perfectly dark, but you still have a restless night’s sleep. Why? is it because of external sounds. I remember when we used to visit my parents’ the first night the traffic on the main road sounded deafening, but I soon got used to it again, my wife rarely did, she had been brought up on a street where a car was almost a rarity. Yet we lived on Air Force Stations and the sound of the jets taking off at all hours, never bothered us. Sound or the lack of it can disturb your sleep.
- Be Careful What You Eat Before You Retire! It is surprising in this day and age just how many people have a good supper before they go to bed. Not surprisingly this can cause problems. Eating a large meal will cause the food to rest on your stomach for a longer time, this can lead to discomfort and thus the inability to sleep. I know that if I eat cheese and biscuits before I go to bed, that I often dream, this of course interrupts my sleep pattern.
- Drinking Before Bedtime! Would imagine that a lot of people will be able to identify with this one. I remember as a child being given a cup of cocoa before going to bed. Now I usually have a glass of water before I retire, since I suffered with gout a few years ago, due to dehydration, I have been very careful about drinking a lot of water, to avoid the symptoms returning. If you have ever had gout, or know someone who has, you will understand why I drink as much water as possible on a daily basis. Water is not a problem but both caffeine and alcohol are. For reasons which I will not go into here.
- Switch Off All Electronics at Least Two Hours Before You Retire: Sorry but that includes watching a re-run of your favourite movie, television, the computer and all electronic games. You need to do something calming and restful. Turn on the CD player and play some relaxing music, read a book, the idea is to rest the brain before you try to sleep, not have it full of murder mystery and suspense, or I will get the high score tomorrow. I am sure that you understand what I am talking about.
A Decent Mattress!
It is surprising just how many people do not sleep properly because their mattress is not suitable for them! More eyebrows being raised! When you (and your partner) choose a new mattress, do not be led by the salesman or the advertisements, the choice of the mattress goes much deeper, and is very important to helping you (both) get a good night’s sleep.
Getting it right depends on a number of things:
- Your budget, if you cannot afford it, you cannot buy it! If you overspend this will cause stress, especially if you do not sleep well in your new over priced mattress.
- What position do you sleep in
- Have you (or your partner) any physical condition that could interfere with your ability to sleep.
What type or sort of mattress do you (and your partner) like or prefer?
- Do you like a mattress that has some bounce in it? If so, you need a mattress with an innerspring.
- If you (both) prefer a firm mattress, then it will be a memory foam.
- If you like both, then a memory foam topper on an innerspring mattress is the choice for you (both).
Feel that this is sufficient, as there are a number of variations on a theme available nowadays, and I will not touch on water beds!! Further more this article is about sleep and not an advertisement for mattresses.
Realise that I have barely touched the surface on this subject, the book that I am writing on sleep is evidence of that. However, felt that it would be wrong not to give you some idea on how you can improve the quality of sleep which you get, if that is all this article has done, then that is something.
As always hope that you have enjoyed this article, if you have any comments, as always, will not only be pleased to receive them, but are grateful for the time that you spend in writing them.
The next article will be a standalone article “Learning to Budget Your Finances”
Be Happy, Healthy and Wealthy