Did you know that by getting enough quality sleep each night you will be able to wake up naturally without an alarm clock? Yes, it’s possible and, yes, if you rely on an alarm clock and find yourself hitting the snooze button each morning than you are most likely not getting enough quality sleep (and you most likely need a quality mattress).
The new year is fast approaching. This tends to be a time of self-reflection, motivation, and resolutions as we look to the future and picture the new year. As you make your list of New Year’s resolutions for 2019, consider putting "getting quality sleep" at the top. By doing so, you just might find yourself sticking to more of your other resolutions on the list as well for the entire year!
Why sleep should be a top priority
Sleep is our brain’s opportunity to sort through all of the new information that we take in each day. By skipping out on sleep, we hinder our brain’s ability to be able to create enough space for new learning and memories.
Not only does it affect our learning but not getting enough sleep can be equivalent to being intoxicated by alcohol. Being awake for longer than 17 hours impairs your ability to think clearly as much as having a blood alcohol concentration above 0.05. After 24 hours of being awake, your ability to perform is as poor as having a blood alcohol concentration of 0.10. This is pretty scary when considering the fact that sleep-deprived individuals often get behind the wheel to drive.
Getting enough sleep can also help with other health issues such as weight gain, back pain, and other health disorders. For example, getting enough sleep can help with managing our food intake. The body’s response to eating food changes when sleep is restricted causing our bodies to take on weight more easily. As little as one week of restricted sleep is associated with glucose (sugar) levels approaching pre-diabetic levels.
Healthy habits: It’s time to get started
From our health to the safety of not only ourselves but others, getting enough sleep is imperative. That being said, it’s not always easy to break old habits. This is why so many New Year’s resolutions seem to be forgotten as we hit the end of February. We are here to tell you that even the most self-proclaimed “night owl” has the ability to adjust their sleep schedule. It just takes a short amount of time, a bit of routine, and using some of these tactics to begin adding 1-2 hours more of sleep each night.
1. Keep a sleep diary
Use a sleep diary to document when you go to sleep and when you wake up each day. This will give you an idea of what your current sleep habits are like and where you can improve.
While some find falling asleep a breeze, this can be a slow process for many. Consistent activities – such as brushing your teeth, reading a book – at a regular time each evening can help your body recognize and prepare for heading to bed. Make sure this time is in addition to the time you set aside for sleep, so you have enough time to wind down before bed.
3. Invest in a quality mattress
Having a mattress that supports your spine will not only keep you from tossing and turning all night, but it will allow you to sleep deeper and with less pain. Our mattresses and bedframes locate pressure points through micro-stimulation movements and auto-adjust your body to immediately relieve any pain. You can let the mattress do the work so you can stick to your resolution.
4. Enforce a tech ban in the bedroom
This might be the most difficult task for some. Our brains take in information all day from our laptops, smartphones, TVs — you name it. It’s difficult to “turn off” our brains from this constant flow of information at the end of the day. By banning technology from the room, you give your brain a break from screens so that it actually has an opportunity to slow down before bed.
5. Create a dark sleeping space
Remove all light from the bedroom at night. Whether it's blackout curtains on your window or covering up the blinking like on a fire detector, having a very dark room will help you fall asleep faster. Try it. You will find yourself falling asleep faster and staying asleep longer.
6. Cut back on activities at night during the week
Most of us have long days of work that go straight into other extracurricular activities that tend to end with watching exciting TV shows or maybe even more work. Try to remove some of these activities, especially as it gets closer to bedtime so that you have a chance to unwind. Our brains and bodies need rest.
7. Remove your alarm clock for a few nights so you can see how much sleep your body actually needs.
There is a common misconception that all humans have a set amount of hours they need each night: 7-8. However, everyone is actually different when it comes to sleep. Some can function very well on as little as 6 hours while others can only function at that same level on 10 hours each night.
The bottom line is that as humans, we need a sufficient amount of sleep to be healthy, that amount just varies depending on the person. To find out how much you need, go to sleep at night at a decent hour and then ditch the alarm clock so that you sleep as late as necessary. Then, when you wake up, document how many hours you got that night and when you went to sleep and woke up. This will show you how many hours you need to function and feel healthy the next day.
8. Finally, talk to your doctor about your sleep
All of these tips may work for some and may absolutely fail for others. Either way, it is important to discuss your sleep patterns with your doctor. Having difficulty sleeping can be a sign of other underlying health problems.
Getting enough sleep keeps us from getting sick, stops weight gain, gives us more energy to be active, and positively affects our moods. Sleep is the most natural “cure-all” there is! Make sure you are getting enough of it in 2019. Happy New Year!