Do you have those days when you just can’t seem to wake up no matter what you do? Do you often stay up late trying to finish your “to do” list for the day and then have trouble pulling yourself out of bed the next morning? We often think that missing an hour here and there of sleep won’t affect us, but those missing hours add up and can cause havoc on our bodies and in our lives. In order for us to be at our optimal best, we need sleep. The amount of sleep and the quality of our sleep affects the quality of our life each and every day. It can affect your work, your relationships, your weight, your emotional state, how you feel about yourself . . . the list goes on and on.
Some of the first signs indicating you might need more sleep are:
- Lack of concentration
When you continue to not get enough sleep your:
- Weight can be affected
- Productivity levels can be decreased
- Ability to cope with stress is lessened
- Emotions can get the best of you and you could overreact to situations that normally would not bother you
- Problem solving skills are not at their best
- Creative abilities can be hindered
- Immune system can become compromised
- Memory can be affected
All of our bodies are different and the amount of sleep each of us needs can vary. I have realized I am at my best when I get 8 hours of sleep. I can function okay on less for several days and maybe even weeks, but eventually it catches up and then my body will send me a strong signal that I better get caught up on my sleep or else! I even have discovered, once I am caught up on my sleep, that if I get more than 8 hours of sleep, I am still not functioning at my best. I can get a little lazy with more than 8 hours of sleep. According to experts, the average person needs 7-8 hours of sleep each night. How much sleep do you think you need?
When we restore our bodies and give it the sleep that it needs we can start to function at our true potential. When we get plenty of sleep each night:
- We have more energy
- We think clearer
- We stop relying on comfort food and caffeine to get us through our day
- We can handle stressful situations more gracefully
- We enjoy our days more
Think about a time when you were tired? Did you eat more that day? Did you snap at your kids, spouse, co-worker or friends? Did you cry? Did your mind feel scattered or maybe you even got sick? These are all things that can be a result of not getting enough sleep.
I don’t think I know anyone that would say they like feeling tired, so why do we continue to push ourselves and not get the sleep our bodies need?
Some tips on getting your sleep:
- Go to bed a little earlier. Try 30 minutes earlier each night
- Try not to eat close to bedtime
- Start to wind down 30-45 minutes before you go to bed. Winding down does not mean cleaning out e-mails or checking Facebook. Walk away from the computer 30-45 minutes before bed time so your brain can start to wind down
- Take a bath and light a candle
- Listen to calming music
- Write in a journal before you go to bed. This will give you an opportunity to release all those thoughts that keep running through your mind. Use a journal or pad of paper to write out the “to do’s” that are still on your mind so that you can fall asleep easier
- Read a book, but choose one that won’t keep you up thinking too much. Try reading something inspriational
- Try some deep breathing, in through your nose out through your mouth
- Create a routine. Just like babies like routines at night our bodies appreciate a routine at night. It is a great way to prepare the body to wind down and be ready to get some rest
Make sleep a priority in your life. Stop sacrificing your sleep to check one more thing off your “to do” list. Remember that when you have enough sleep you are happier and more productive. So instead of something taking 2 hours to do, you just might be able to complete it in 45 minutes because you have the energy to do it. So start experimenting with getting more sleep and pay attention to how you feel as you discover how much sleep helps you feel the best.