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Sleep and Why it's so IMPORTANT

Good morning!

Are you on your electronic devices a lot before bed?

Do you feel refreshed when you wake up in the morning?

If you answered yes to the first question, chances are you probably answered no to the second one.

This past week, Noah and I did a chat on the topic of sleep on a Facebook Live. We talked about some of the research behind sleep, why it’s super important, strategies to get better quality sleep and answered some questions from participants on the live chat.

Sleep, especially during this pandemic, is more important than ever. Sleep is the time where your brain and body recover.

Want to know what happens when you don’t get adequate sleep?

Weight gain, risk of illness and disease go up, restlessness, irritability and the list goes on.

So how much sleep do you need?

The National Sleep Foundation recommends between 7-9 hours of sleep per night but ⅓ of adults do not get enough AND 75% of high school kids don’t!

Some say that number is impossible, but it isn’t if you prioritize it. If you want to wake up feeling energized, be more productive, live a longer, healthier life and be a happier person, get more sleep. Here are six sleeping strategies that can help make that happen:

  1. Avoid Screens - Do you ever sit in bed on your phone or computer for hours aimlessly searching social media? Welcome to the party. Next thing you know it is midnight and you have to be up in six hours. It’s time to avoid screens before bed. Screens give off artificial blue light which messes up our sleep schedule. Blue light triggers production of more day-time hormones in our body and suppresses night-time hormones such as melatonin. Get the television out of the bedroom completely and all other electronics need to be shut off at least 60 minutes before you go to sleep.

  2. Caffeine and Alcohol Curfew - These two can wreak havoc on our sleep. The former can keep us up all night, while the other can knock us out early but the quality of sleep is not good. Don’t have caffeine at least 8 hours before bed because even though we may be able to go to sleep, the quality is disrupted as our nervous system is still turned on. With alcohol, it affects our REM sleep, which is our deep sleep. When we get sufficient REM sleep, it helps to improve our memory and leaves us feeling energized and more focused when we wake. Alcohol disrupts this so cut out the alcohol or limit it and don’t consume any at least three hours before bed.

  3. Exercise Regularly - We always come back to exercise because it helps us in every facet of life. Those who exercise regularly are healthier and those who exercise regularly also have better sleep. Exercise helps regulate your hormone levels and keep your internal clock at the right time. Exercise is preferable in the morning but if that doesn’t work, just make sure you aren’t exercising right before bed.

  4. Get Some Sun - I thought sun gave everyone cancer! Being out in the sun 24/7 increases the risk, but getting daily sunlight not only helps your mood but can help get you a great night’s sleep. Regular exposure to sunlight increases your natural secretion of melatonin, one of our sleep hormones. This is difficult for some in the winter months with very little sunlight so a light therapy box can help in those situations.

  5. Go to Bed Early - The money time for sleep is in between 10 pm and 2 am. During those times, the body has the greatest secretion of human growth hormone and increased melatonin production. Get to bed before 10 pm and you will reap these benefits.

  6. Sleep in Darkness - Put some shades up in your room. Darkness supports a normal sleep cycle. Unnatural light such as headlights on a car or street lights can knock us out of our normal sleep cycle because our skin has photoreceptors that pick this up. Black it out and your sleep will improve.

Sleep is important. If you don’t get regular, quality sleep, you are at risk for a multitude of problems. Start implementing these simple strategies into your sleep routine and you will be catching some good Z’s and feeling better and better each day.

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