The Importance of Sleep
The reason why sleep is so important is because it is a restorative process. While we sleep, our brain cycles through the 3 stages of sleep: light, deep and REM. Sleep restores, rejuvenates and energizes the body and brain. Our immune systems recharge during this time, cells grow and repair themselves, and our bodies conserve energy.
Dangers of Sleep Deprivation
Unfortunately, to many women and men, sleep is not valued. In our “open all night” society we now live in, studies show that 4 our of 10 Americans are trading in much-needed sleep hours for longer hours at the office, gym, club and other activities which seem more important or interesting. What they may not realize is that lack of sleep takes a toll on our mental and physical well being.
Studies performed by the National Sleep Foundation show that even minimal sleep loss has a profoundly detrimental impact on mood, cognition, performance, productivity, communication skills, accident rates and general health. For optimal functioning throughout the day, the average adult needs between seven to nine hours sleep a night. According to the NSF, the American adult population functions on about six and a half hours of sleep per night.
For some, lack of sleep is not a choice, but a condition. Millions of Americans suffer from insomnia. According to the NSF, a third of Americans are using over the counter or prescription sleep aids at night. If you suffer from insomnia, here are a few tips to help you get some shut eye:
- Limit exposure to blue light for the several hours prior to bedtime. Artificial light wreaks havoc on sleep for many people – it decreases the body’s production of melatonin which tells our bodies to sleep and rest deeply. You can avoid exposure by wearing orange/amber glasses when exposed to artificial light prior to bed – especially light from your phone, tablet or computer! These two pairs are the most popular: Uvex S1933X Skyper and Uvex S0360X Ultra-spec (if you wear regular glasses underneath). See this article from Chris Kresser about how artificial light really messes with your sleep!
- Avoid caffeinated food and beverages like coffee, teas, soft drinks and chocolate 3 to 4 hours before bedtime. Avoid these items after noon if you are extremely sensitive or a slow metabolizer of caffeine. Avoid caffeine altogether if you have adrenal fatigue.
- Exercise regularly, but complete your workout at least three hours before bedtime. Keeping your body calm in the evening hours helps you sleep when its time to sleep.
- Engage in meditation or gentle yoga prior to bed as a relaxation ritual.
- Make sure your mattress is the right one for you. Flip your mattress over periodically to maintain it.
- If you are a spiritual person, pray before bedtime — don’t go to bed with a heavy load.
- Develop a bedtime ritual. Taking a warm bath before bedtime will relax your body and usually make you feel sleepy.
- Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark and comfortable.
- Have a warm drink.
- Play relaxing music.
- Go to bed and wake up the same time every day. When your sleep cycle has a regular rhythm you will feel better.
More on Sleeping Pretty
A cute little study showed that wives preferred their hubby wear only boxers to bed. Whatever your personal sleepwear preference, make sure you are comfortable and that you allow bedtime to serve as an opportunity to prepare your mind and body for the rest it deserves. Here are a few more tips to help you sleep pretty:
- Most women should remove makeup and cleanse the face thoroughly before bed. If your skin is extremely dry, you might prefer to not wash your face more than once per day. For example, my skin is severely dry so I only wash my face in the morning, I wear high-quality mineral makeup and sleep with my makeup on so long as I have not sweat much during the day or encountered much environmental debris. For most women, though, going to bed without washing your face not only leads to mascara-stained sheets and for some women, the dirt picked up during the day can clog pores and lead to acne. (Andrea Eye Q’s Eye Makeup Remover Pads were voted the best makeup remover by Allure Magazine).
- Brush and floss your teeth.
- Burt’s Bees Night Cream works wonders on rough spots while you sleep. Try it on feet, elbows, and knees and dab a little on your lips too.
- If you wrap your hair in a scarf at bedtime, remember to wash it regularly.
- Wear your fancy nighties to bed. Don’t save them for a special occasion. YOU are a special occasion.
- Marilyn Monroe is said to only have worn Chanel No.5 to bed. That one is up to you!.
Here’s wishing you brighter days and more restful nights!