A good night’s sleep is one of the most effective tools known to enhance mental and physical stamina. The lack of sleep can be linked to certain symptoms, including poor concentration, dizziness, headaches, weight gain, depression and general fatigue throughout the day.
With maturity comes change, including the amount of time we devote to regular sleep cycles. Sleep deprivation may seem like a minor inconvenience, but as we age, there is a higher risk, since insomnia is linked to chronic illnesses, such as Diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease, according to Medical News Today. There are several steps you can take to cure a consistent or chronic lack of sleep, including shutting down your internet connection at least an hour before bedtime.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, mature adults require between 7 to 9 hours of restful sleep each night to maintain good health and mental focus. The foundation points to specifics that can enhance the sleep mood. To begin with, avoid alcohol, cigarettes and tobacco products since they are sleep disrupters, as is chocolate. Of course, it’s important to eliminate caffeine prior to bedtime and in the late afternoon. Instead, reach for a healthy snack of yogurt or nuts to boost afternoon slumps. Caffeine-free coffee and tea can be substituted in moderation to minimize the jitters, or you may want to enjoy the benefits of drinking an herbal tea, such as chamomile, before bedtime to relieve stress and relax your muscles.
Turn your bedroom into a comfort zone that is conducive to restful sleep. Layer windows with functioning treatments, such as traversing draperies and operable blinds that can block out light when a daytime sleep-in is called for, and provide extra insulation during weather extremes. Place reading materials nearby with adequate lighting and comfortable back support to enhance restful sleep. Resist the urge to leave your cell phone bedside, unless it is part of your security plan, and consider muting the ringer to avoid unwanted wake-up calls. If your bedroom includes a sitting area, you probably also have a TV. While enjoying the entertainment value it offers in the privacy of your bedroom is appealing, try to avoid depending on the TV as a crutch to help you fall asleep. Instead, opt for listening to soft, instrumental music to relax your mind at bedtime.
Although regular exercise is important, complete vigorous workouts at least 3 hours before hitting the sack. A warm bath and a glass of milk may sound a bit old fashioned, but the combination before bed encourages slumber. Even an occasional beer before bedtime may help, since the hops in most brews can ease digestion and sooth stomach spasms, while promoting sleep. Avoid turning up the thermostat at bedtime, as resting body temperatures require less heat and will relax better in a room that is dark, cool and comfortable.
The foundation shares interesting insights about our brains and why it’s important to sleep at night.
“Sleep is regulated by two brain processes. One is the restorative process when sleep occurs naturally in response to how long we are awake; the longer we are awake, the stronger is the drive to sleep. The second process controls the timing of sleep and wakefulness during the day-night cycle…… This part of the brain is influenced by light so that we naturally tend to get sleepy at night when it is dark and are active during the day when it is light.”
Our body functions are regulated to remain in sync with our nocturnal sleep cycles to ensure kidney functions and blood pressure coincide with the resting body. Light influences the biological clock to ensure important hormones are secreted at the correct levels during the sleep cycle. Simultaneously, blood pressure is lowered and kidney functions change. The Sleep Foundation suggests you let sleep work for you rather than fighting against the perpetual time clock we are all born with. Turn to the restorative power of sleep when you experience fatigue and no other option makes as much sense. Don’t explain yourself to others if a power nap is on the horizon or becomes part of your regular routine- just do it!
However, ensure that it really is just a power nap. Afternoon naps that consistently exceed much beyond an hour may indicate the lack of proper rest at night, or perhaps chronic sleep apnea. Check with your physician if long naps become a main component in your regular sleep cycle.
Avoid the regular use of prescription or over-the-counter sleep aids to prevent dependency issues that can lead to depression. Melatonin and certain non-caffeine herbal teas, such as Chamomile, may enhance sleep-inducing moods to aid the sleep cycle with a natural approach.
Sweet dreams should be a regular part of your sleep cycle. Practice silent meditation prior to shutting down your mind for the night and focus on something pleasant instead of counting sheep and your dreams just might come true!