We all know that sleep is critical to function on a day to day basis, but an irregular sleep pattern can do more damage to the body than you may realize. A lack of sleep can affect your emotional wellness, hormone balance, physical appearance, and much more. A good nights sleep can make a world of difference, so to help you out here is a list of things you can bring into your life to help the journey to dreamland.
Lets start with the things to avoid, sometimes knowing what not to do is better than knowing what to do. Everyone is different in how they can get to sleep, but if you want to improve your sleeping habits here are some things you may want to start with:
Light and Electronics:
Our bodies are naturally hardwired to function when the sun is up, and our internal clock cannot tell the difference between a lightbulb and the sun. As it gets closer to bed time, limit your exposure to artificial light that comes from your in-home light and electronics. Electronics not only stimulate our brains, but screens emit a special blue light that mimics the light we see from the sun, which tricks the body into staying awake. Try to use dim lighting in your home to allow your body to naturally bring itself to a state of rest. If you have to use your devices before bed, use them on a lower brightness or install an app that can block blue light on your device. We recommend f.lux!
Alcohol and Drugs:
Alcohol is known as a depressant due to its ability to slow our bodies functioning down, but alcohol itself is a toxin that the body has to process out. Which means drinking it before bed interrupts every normal internal function going on. This can cause indigestion, hormonal imbalances, instability in the muscles and brain, and of course you may even wake up with a hangover. Drugs and nicotine are typically stimulants, which means they release adrenaline and kick your body into high gear, the exact opposite of what you want when its time for bed. If you have to smoke or drink, do so 3-4 hours before bed. Better yet, if you can avoid these two things altogether before bed.
Irregular or Long Daytime Naps:
Studies have shown that a single 20-30 minute nap in the middle of the day can improve functioning, but anything more than that can be detrimental to your overall sleep patterns and cause you to not be tired until you have to be at work.
Going to bed Stuffed or Starving:
Going to bed without any food in your system makes your body think its starving, and your stomach will keep you awake through hunger pangs to try and motivate you to eat. Alternatively, while people always feel sleepy after a big meal, you can easily put on more weight when you digest a giant meal asleep. You may not even digest it fully, which leads to intestinal bloating, gas, infrequent bathroom visits, and lethargy when you wake up. Try to eat a nutritious meal before 9:00 PM, make sure to take your time eating and chew slowly. This gives the body proper time to digest and know when it is full for the night.