Sometimes it seems like in our efforts to be healthy, we’ll do just about anything. We watch the food we eat, exercise, pamper our skin and hair, and even spend our free time worrying if we are healthy enough! In this race to achieve ideal health, we forget one of the most essential things we can do – get a good night’s sleep. Sleep, unfortunately, is one thing that we all sacrifice as we rush to get through our endless to-do lists. With the hectic lifestyles we lead today, the balancing act between work, family and fun gets harder to manage and, more often than not, we cut down on our sleep to make more time in our day. If we could only add another hour to each day, most of us would spend it getting some extra shut-eye!
What we don’t realise is that missing out on an hour or two of sleep each day affects our bodies and even our minds. Not getting the proper rest each day leaves us bleary-eyed and hampers our productivity. Not only this, but not getting enough ‘beauty sleep’ will make your skin look dull and your face will lose its healthy glow. Not to mention the dark circles around your eyes that even the best concealer won’t hide! The reasons to get enough sleep are many, but we tell you exactly why a good night’s rest shouldn’t be a weekend luxury but an everyday must-have!
Sleeping is essential for the overall health of the body because while asleep, the body recovers from the stress it deals with during the day. Cells are rebuilt and tissues and muscles get repaired and rejuvenated. The body prepares itself for another long, hard day! The amount of time we need for rest ranges from anywhere between six to ten hours, but eight hours is generally considered about right. Getting a good night’s sleep is essential to ensure that our days are more fruitful and that we can work at maximum potential. But the fact remains that very few people get a good night’s rest. Many of us have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, and don’t even realise that this could be a significant problem.
Here are a few basic ways to ensure a restful sleep:
- Cut out all caffeine after 6 pm. Simple things like a caffeinated drink at dinner or a cup of coffee late at night can keep you awake, tossing and turning even when you’re tired and need to sleep. The best thing to do is to avoid any drink with caffeine after 6 pm, so that the mind isn’t affected by these stimulants when you need to sleep.
- Create an environment that induces sleep. Simple things like the firmness of your mattress and softness of your pillows can affect the quality of your sleep. Ensure that your bed is large enough for you to turn around in, comfortably. Also, switch off the lights and make your room as dark as possible to make sure stray light doesn’t bother you while sleeping. Shut the door or use a pair of earplugs to drown out any noise that might wake you up.
- Try a pre-bedtime routine that will help you relax. Having a set routine will signal to your brain that you are getting ready to sleep. Doing something that relaxes you - reading a book, listening to some soft music, or having a warm glass of milk - will help you sleep deeper and better. Watching TV before you sleep isn’t a great idea, because the bright flickering images stimulate the brain instead of relaxing it.
- Control your anxiety and worry. If anxiety and stress about the day’s events are running around in your brain and preventing you from sleeping, try meditation to calm your mind. If that doesn’t help, try writing down the things that bother you on a sheet of paper; this might help you get them off your mind and on paper instead. Learning some relaxation techniques could also help you calm down and sleep better.
- Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Sticking to a routine of going to bed and waking up at the same time is an effective way to ensure that you fall asleep sooner. Get your internal body clock in order, since this is a powerful way of controlling how much sleep you get, and the quality of your shut-eye.
- Watch what food you eat before bedtime. Having a heavy meal right before bed is a bad idea since it takes the body a while to digest it properly, and this might inhibit good sleep. Cut out fatty foods late in the day, as they can cause indigestion or other problems that could keep you up.
Follow these simple guidelines and your body and mind will be getting the rest it needs in no time. You’ll be energised and ready to start all over again… tomorrow! - Elizabeth