Sleep is one of the most important things we can do for our body. It is not a good supplement; it is a necessity for well-being. Lack of sleep is linked to serious chronic health problems, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes and weakened immune function. It also compromises your ability to cope with stress.
But the influence of sleep does not stop there. Research shows that poor sleep habits shorten a person’s lifespan. Getting enough quality sleep is essential. Although it may not promise longevity, it keeps your vital bodily processes moving as they should. Let’s talk about sleep habits you should add to your routine tonight.
What happens while we sleep?
Even if you are not moving, your body is active while you sleep. There are key mental and physical processes that occur while we sleep.
Let’s start with the brain. Cognitive function depends on sleep. Sleep allows the brain to form new neural pathways to complement other cognitive functions like learning, concentration, and problem solving. According to Harvard Health, your brain also uses sleep as a time to flush out toxins that build up while you’re awake.
Memory consolidation also happens while we sleep. Think of it like this, when you are awake you absorb the information, but it just floats around in your mind. You have to fall asleep to understand what it means and to be able to remember it long term.
Physically, sleep helps your body repair itself, including muscles, organs, and cells. It also grows tissues and releases hormones that help in growth and restoration of the body. Another key function sleep performs in the body is to fight disease. During sleep, the immune system releases cytokines, a small protein that reduces inflammation or infection.
3 Sleep Habits You Need to Adopt if You Want to Live Longer
A lot happens during sleep, which is essential for overall health. Try these sleep tips to make sure you’re as healthy as possible.
Sleep about 7 hours a night
For starters, make sure you get enough sleep. According to the CDC, adults should average 7 hours or more of sleep each night. Not just any type of sleep will do; this must be uninterrupted and restful. You want to get so much deep sleep as possible. Deep sleep is one of the most important stages because it gives your brain and body a chance to rest and recover from the day.
OK, so you can’t choose what kind of sleep you get. However, there are things you can do while you’re awake to set yourself up to successfully progress through the sleep stages and get your deep sleep quota.
Follow these tips to optimize the quality and duration of your sleep:
- Avoid caffeine 6 hours before sleep: It is best to keep your caffeine consumption in the morning and early afternoon. Stop drinking it about 4 to 6 hours before bed so that it does not affect your ability to fall asleep.
- Do not drink alcohol before bed: For some people, alcohol can relax them enough to fall asleep easily. However, this happiness does not last. Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant that calms excitatory nerve cells in the brain. As your body metabolizes alcohol, these cells bounce back and you wake up.
- Invest in sleep essentials: To sleep better, insure your room is a real sleep sanctuary. From bedding to your mattress to blackout curtains, it’s important to make the right choices for your sleep needs.
- Exercise a few hours before bed: The timing of your workout partly determines the quality of your sleep. Intense exercise sessions should generally not be done right before bedtime because they increase your heart rate and stimulate your nervous system, making it difficult to fall asleep. It’s best to keep your workouts vigorous at least an hour before bed. That said, low impact yoga sessions can be done just before bedtime as they can improve the quality of your sleep.
- Try to manage anxiety: Anxiety can put a strain on your ability to sleep. For managing anxiety symptoms before going to bed, use a meditation app or sleep with weighted blanket to manage anxiety symptoms before bed.
Treating your sleep apnea
You’d be surprised how many people don’t get treatment for their sleep apnea. I understand. Masks can be uncomfortable and pumping the machine can keep your partner awake. But you shouldn’t ignore your sleep apnea.
The nature of sleep apnea will not allow you to sleep well without treatment. When you have sleep apnea, you momentarily stop breathing while you sleep because your throat muscles relax too much and block your airways. As a result, you wake up. This can happen as few as a few times or hundreds of times each night. No matter how long you sleep with untreated sleep apnea, you never feel rested.
Studies have shown that sleep apnea can contribute to “older” biological age and accelerated aging. It has also been shown to help with chronic health conditions like high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.
Seeking treatment for sleep apnea can reduce your risk of health problems and help you sleep better at night.
Stick to your sleep routine
Have you ever noticed that you get tired at around the same time every night? It’s for a very good reason. Our body has a natural sleep-wake cycle called the circadian rhythm. It’s what helps us relax enough to fall asleep by flooding our brain with melatonin.
keep the same sleeping and waking time helps keep your aligned circadian rhythm. A disturbed circadian rhythm will cause you to experience daytime sleepiness and difficulty concentrating. As often as you can, try to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. Yes, even on weekends.
Sleep is the basis of our health. Getting enough sleep is one of the best things you can do to ensure you live a long and happy life. Start being intentional about your sleep tonight.
The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute medical or health advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have about a medical condition or health goals.
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