I know a lady who goes to bed like clockwork, no matter what is going on. One night, there were plenty of activities going on during an annual journalists’ convention, but it didn’t matter. Sleep was precious to her, and she wasn’t willing to compromise it.
We have long known that restful sleep is necessary for exuberance and a youthful appearance, hence the phrase beauty sleep.
Researchers have connected the dots between brain function and sleep as well as its correlation to illnesses. They’ve known for years that low sleep quality and quantity impacts our immune system, memory and blood pressure.
A recent study in the Journal of Sleep Research suggests that adding just one more hour of sleep can lower blood pressure. Having a habitual bedtime helps as well, the study suggests.
Sleep is something I used to take for granted. I would make use of quiet time when the children were asleep to finish chores or unwind. (I know other mothers feel me on this one). Not really a morning person, I couldn’t fathom going to bed before midnight. There is simply too much stuff to do.
But like exercise and a balanced diet, you need to plenty of sleep if you want to lose weight or maintain your current weight. A lack of sleep increases the release of cortisol and ghrelin and decreases the release of leptin. Changes in these hormones can increase appetite, leading to weight gain.
Rather than thinking during the middle of the night about what you have to do in the middle of the night, remember that rest is another simple thing we can do to improve our health. Recuperating from the day’s activities and revving up to battle whatever germ is lurking, the body is happy when you catch plenty of Zs.
Avoid caffeine, alcohol and nicotine four to six hours before bedtime.
Make sure your sleeping environment is quiet, dark and cool — between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
Establish a presleep routine, such as reading or relaxation techniques. Avoid stressful conversations or activities before bed.
Sleep when you’re truly tired. If you can’t fall asleep after 20 minutes, get up, go to another room and find something relaxing to do until you fall asleep.
Don’t watch the clock. Staring at a clock can make it harder to fall asleep or it can induce stress.
Let natural light in as soon as you get up to keep your internal clock on a healthy sleep-wake cycle.
Keep a consistent sleep schedule, even on the weekends.