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Building Healthy Sleep Habits

21 September 2023

It's no secret that sleep is essential. What might be less clear is the extent to which our daily habits can impact our sleep - for better or worse. Making a few simple changes can help ensure that you're getting the most out of your slumber and waking up feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day.

Understanding Sleep

Most of us know that sleep is a basic human need, like food and water. But what exactly is sleep? And why do we need it?

Sleep is a naturally occurring state of rest for the mind and body. It's a crucial part of our daily routine, allowing our bodies to repair and rejuvenate themselves. Sleep also plays an essential role in our overall health and well-being, impacting everything from our mood and energy levels to our immunity and metabolism.

While we typically think of sleep as a time for the body to recover, it's also an important time for the brain. During sleep, our brains consolidate memories and process information from the day. This helps us learn and remember new information and makes it easier to focus and pay attention during waking hours. Sleep also helps regulate our moods, appetite, and weight.

There are two main types of sleep: REM (rapid eye movement) sleep and non-REM sleep. Most of us need around eight hours of sleep per night, though the amount of sleep we need varies from person to person. Babies and young children, for example, need more sleep than adults. And as we get older, our sleep patterns often change.

REM sleep is a lighter stage characterized by rapid eye movements and increased brain activity. It's the stage of sleep when we dream. Non-REM sleep is a deeper stage characterized by slower brain waves and decreased muscle activity.

Most of us cycle through different REM stages, and non-REM sleep several times throughout the night. And while the exact function of each stage is not fully understood, it's thought that each plays an important role in our physical and mental health.

The Importance of Sleep

Getting a good night's sleep is crucial to our overall health and well-being. When we don't get enough sleep, it can affect our physical and mental health. Short-term effects of sleep deprivation include fatigue, irritability, and impaired concentration and memory.

Fatigue is one of the most common symptoms of sleep deprivation. When we're tired, we may find it more difficult to concentrate and be productive at work or school. We may also feel irritable or cranky and have difficulty paying attention or focusing on tasks. These effects can lead to accidents and errors at work and in our personal lives.

In addition to physical characteristics, sleep also plays an important role in our mental and emotional health. Sleep loss has been linked to depression, anxiety, and mood swings. It can also impact our ability to regulate emotions and make sound decisions. This happens because sleep deprivation alters the activity of some of the chemicals in our brains, including serotonin and dopamine. These chemicals are responsible for regulating our mood, emotions, and appetite.

Not getting enough sleep can also make us more susceptible to illness. Sleep loss weakens our immune system, making us more likely to get sick. It also alters the levels of inflammation-promoting hormones in our bodies, which can lead to chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.

Sleep loss can also seriously affect our safety. Drowsy driving is a leading cause of car accidents, and sleep deprivation has been linked to a higher risk of accidents and errors at work. In fact, fatigue is a contributing factor in an estimated 20% of all industrial accidents.

In the long term, sleep deprivation has been linked to serious health conditions, including obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. It can also impact our moods, memory, and immunity. If you're struggling to get enough sleep, you must talk to your doctor or a sleep specialist. They can help you identify the underlying cause of your sleep problems and find a solution that works for you.

Building Healthy Sleep Habits

Building habits takes persistence, discipline, and time. It is important to be patient and not get discouraged if you have a setback. Like building any other habit, developing healthy sleep habits requires changing your routine and sticking with them over time. But the effort is worth it. There are several things we can do to promote healthy sleep habits.

Establish a Regular Schedule and Stick to It

It's important to establish a regular sleep schedule. This means going to bed and waking up at the same time each day, even on weekends and holidays. This may be difficult at first, but it's important to stick with it. Once you get into a regular sleep rhythm, falling asleep and staying asleep will be easier.

Create a Relaxing Bedtime Routine

It can be helpful to create a relaxing bedtime routine that you can do each night before you go to sleep. This might include taking a warm bath, reading a book, or writing in a journal. Whatever you choose, make sure it's something that you enjoy and helps you relax. Doing the same thing each night will signal your body that it's time to wind down and prepare for sleep.

Create a Sleep-Friendly Environment

Your bedroom should be a haven for sleep. Make sure it's dark, quiet, and cool. Reserve your bed for sleep and sex, and create an environment that promotes relaxation. This means keeping electronics out of the bedroom and avoiding work or other activities in bed. If you can't avoid noise at night, try using a white noise machine to help you sleep.

Put Your Devices Away

This is probably one of the most difficult things to do in today's time. We are so used to having technology at our fingertips that it has become second nature to reach for our phones every other minute. However, the light from screens can suppress melatonin production, a hormone that helps regulate our sleep-wake cycle. This makes it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep.

So, make it a rule to put away all electronics at least 30 minutes before bedtime. This will give you time to unwind and prepare for sleep. If you can't avoid using your devices at night, try using a blue light filter to reduce the amount of blue light exposure.

Limit Caffeine and Alcohol Intake

Caffeine and alcohol can both interfere with sleep. Caffeine is a stimulant that can keep you awake, while alcohol can make it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep. If you're trying to improve your sleep habits, it's important to limit your intake of both caffeine and alcohol.

Get Regular Exercise

Regular exercise is one of the most effective things you can do to improve your sleep. Exercise helps to regulate our sleep-wake cycles and promote deep, restful sleep. It also reduces stress and anxiety, which can interfere with sleep. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise each day. But remember to avoid exercise close to bedtime, as it can put your body and mind in high gear and make it harder to fall asleep.

Manage Stress

Chronic stress can interfere with sleep. If you're struggling to manage stress, there are several things you can try. These include relaxation techniques such as mindfulness meditation, yoga, and deep breathing exercises. You might also try journaling or talking to a therapist. Identifying and addressing the sources of your stress can help you sleep better at night.

Stretching Also Helps

Stretching can also help promote sleep. A study published in the Journal of Korean Medical Science found that stretching before bedtime can help improve sleep quality. The study participants who stretched before bedtime reported feeling more rested and less fatigued during the day. They also slept for longer periods and experienced fewer awakenings during the night.

Get Help If You Need It

If you're struggling to improve your sleep habits, don't hesitate to seek help from a sleep specialist or other health professional. They can help you identify the underlying cause of your sleep problems and find a solution that works for you.

Invest in an Ergonomic Mattress

A good mattress is an important part of creating a sleep-friendly environment. An ergonomic mattress can help reduce pain and promote deep, restful sleep. If you're unsure which mattress is right for you, talk to a sleep specialist or other health professional. They can help you find a mattress that meets your needs and preferences.

MLILY Dreamer Gel Foam Mattress

The MLILY Dreamer Gel Foam Mattress is designed with an all-foam structure to ensure proper support for your body. It conforms to your body's shape and gives you a zero-pressure feeling to help you sleep comfier and combat tiredness.

The mattress is certified by CertiPUR-US, which ensures durability, performance, and safety. You can sleep well without having to worry about the health effects of poor sleep posture.

The top foam layer is infused with green tea gel. It promotes softness and freshness while helping to regulate temperature and odor. The mattress is covered using a hypoallergenic, soft, and breathable bamboo fabric, which helps maintain a natural, and comfortable sleep.

Final Thoughts

Building healthy sleep habits is a process, but it's worth the effort. Making simple changes to your routine can promote deep, restful sleep and improve your overall health. Remember to be patient and stick with yourself even if you have a setback. With time and persistence, you can develop healthy sleep habits that will benefit you for years.