Getting a good night’s sleep is critically important in maintaining physical and mental well-being. During times of sleep the body undergoes many key processes. The brain uses the time to create new neural pathways, which is why missing a night’s sleep can wreak havoc on your ability to process new data and deal with emotional stress. Episodes of sleep are also critical to balancing hormonal levels like insulin, ghrelin, and leptin; which help regulate your hunger cues and metabolism.
Sleep deficiency can negatively impact your immune system, increase your risk of obesity, and deprive the body of time needed to repair and heal blood vessels and your heart. Combined, long term effects of sleep deficiency have been linked to type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and depression.
Here are some strategies you can use to help you find a sound sleep each day:
- Create a sleep schedule! Your mom was right. Going to bed and waking up at the same time each day really does help you get a better night’s sleep consistently.
- Avoid large meals and alcohol before bed. Limit consumption of heavy fatty foods and try a lighter snack like air popped popcorn or veggie slices.
- Limit caffeine consumption from beverages like coffee, soda, energy drinks, and tea. Stick with herbal tea for a zero caffeine option.
- Skip that late night chocolaty treat. A serving of chocolate has roughly 12 mg of caffeine. And, honestly, who has the self-control to eat just one serving of chocolaty goodness?
- Make the last hour before bed relaxing. Turn off screens, bright lights, and loud music. And if you are too co-dependent on that technological device of yours (hey, no-judgement) make sure to turn on your device’s blue-light filter. Visible blue light contains short-wavelength, high energy light that makes the eye strain as it scatters quickly.
- Add a plant to your bedroom. They are great for adding color and warmth, and many species can help purify the air and improve sleep quality throughout the night. Plants like English Ivy, Peace lily, and the Snake plant all thrive in low indirect light and help purify the air by releasing oxygen at night.