I remember I got a nifty little black and white television for my sixth birthday. My very own TV, to watch in my room, to watch whatever I wanted! And about a week later that baby was confiscated and taken from me. Evidently staying up and watching Johnny Carson do his monologue at 11:30 on school nights was not what my parents had in mind. It wasn’t my fault their genetics combined to create the insomniac that I am. Let’s blame them.
Seriously, even at that age I had trouble falling asleep. Today at 48 years old I often don’t find myself tired before one or two in the morning. I’m usually up reading or creating until at least that time. And then I’m up between 5 and 6 every morning. So I often average between three and five hours of sleep nightly for weeks at a time. It’s just how I’m wired.
As I’m getting older I’m beginning to understand the cost of not sleeping (you should see the foundation and concealer investments I’ve made so as not to look like a zombie the next day).
Here are some reasons for you – and me – to focus on catching our Z’s, because lack of sleep can lead to:
- Weight gain – higher BMI is often found in people who average less than six hours sleep per night. People who sleep more than eight hours per night have the lowest BMI typically. The reason for this is lack of sleep impacts your hormones, which impacts your weight significantly.
- Diabetes – researchers are finding that inadequate sleep impacts the way the body processes glucose and is ultimately a potential for higher flood sugar levels leading to type II diabetes.
- Mood disorders – long-term mood disorders such as depression, anxiety, and mental distress have been associated with chronic sleep issues. Short-term issues include irritability and moodiness.
- Heart disease and hypertension – lack of sleep is being shown to impact hypertension causing elevated blood pressure throughout the following day. Chronic high blood pressure increases risk factors for cardiovascular disease and stroke.
- Reduced life expectancy – studies show that sleeping less than five hours per night increases your mortality risk by roughly 15%.
Sleep needs to be treated in the same manner nutrition and exercise are. You’re gonna have to work on it. It’s vital that you get the appropriate rest to allow your body to heal, rejuvenate, process hormones and shut down for periods of time for rest.
Here are 10 tips to help you get a better night sleep:
- Start with a routine. Reset your internal clock by going to bed and waking at the same time each day.
- Establish a pre-sleep routine. A bath or light reading about an hour or so before bedtime gets your brain ready to get ready to sleep.
- Step away from the electronics. Most of our electronic devices have a light source in them. Cell phone, iPad, Kindle, television to name a few. That internal light tells our brain it’s not time to go to sleep. Begin your electronic fast two hours before your desired bedtime.
- Use light to your advantage in the morning. Pull the curtains back and expose yourself to natural sunlight early in the day to help reset your circadian rhythm.
- Eliminate caffeine, alcohol, nicotine and other stimulants that are known to interfere with sleep.
- Keep the bedroom for sleep and sex. This should not be your storage room, workout room, office or serve any other purpose. Begin to anchor only the activities that you want taking place in that bedroom. If you can’t sleep, get up and go into another room until you can.
- Make it comfortable. Make your bedroom sleep friendly: quiet, dark, cool and make sure your mattress and pillows are comfortable.
- Quit eating and drinking 4 to 6 hours before your desired bedtime. This will eliminate the urge to get up and empty your bladder in the middle of the night as well is any potential for indigestion.
- Do not nap. If you simply can’t function without a nap until you’re on track with your sleep, keep them short (under 20 minutes) and do it before 5 p.m.
- Exercise early in the day. Regular exercise has been shown to help people sleep more soundly, just make sure you completed at least four hours before you go to bed so your body has time to wind down.