Sleep affects your health more than you may realize. People who are well-rested make better choices and live longer than people who go through life without enough sleep. There are times that sleep deprivation cannot be avoided, such as having a newborn in the home; but, generally speaking, there are three simple things you can do to ensure that most of the time you get enough sleep.
Incorporate the following into your lifestyle:
- Stop eating at night! – Do not eat anything during the three hours before your bedtime. When you eat just before going to bed, rather than going in to a state of relaxation, your body is busy digesting food, which interferes with deep sleep. Many people say they are not hungry in the morning, which could be the result of late-night eating. If you have nothing during the three hours before sleep, there is a good chance you will be hungry and ready to “break your fast” in the morning – which is the way the body is supposed to work.
- Create a quiet, peaceful environment in your bedroom — Your bedroom should be your sanctuary. It should be clean, quiet, a comfortable sleeping temperature (not too hot, or too cold); and very dark. If necessary, get black out shades. Do not sleep with electronics running (radio, TV, I-Pod, etc.) This will interfere with deep restful sleep. If you have trouble falling asleep, try using a white noise machine or fan to generate white noise that will drown out other sounds so that you can sleep more soundly.
- Exercise daily — Whether it is a 10-minute walk after dinner, or a one-hour run in the morning, it is important to get moving a little bit every day. It is not a good idea to exercise heavily at night; but, a leisurely walk after dinner will help you sleep. The point of leisurely walking is not to burn calories but to get some fresh air and relax. If you have a partner or other family member who can join you, that is even better. A full exercise regimen is better suited for earlier in the day.
When you are continuously feeling tired and sleep-deprived, you have less willpower. You are more likely to indulge in sugary and/or caffeinated beverages; sugary, fatty snacks; and poor food choices in general. When you get enough sleep to feel well-rested, you are more likely to eat healthy, nutritious foods. Your body will function on a much higher level, repairing and healing as needed, and digesting your food efficiently, which ensures better health and a longer life.