For many people, sleep time is whatever time is left over at the end of the day.
Life is busy. Sleep can easily become the last priority. The reality is, especially within a busy life, taking ownership of prioritizing sleep is vital. We can't be healthy and happy without it.
What's so great about sleep?
Sleep restores everything in the body: Our immune, nervous, skeletal, hormonal, and muscular systems.
Sleep helps regulate our metabolism, including blood sugar and insulin levels. Eventually, chronically inadequate sleep is linked to gaining fat and risks of diabetes.
Sleep helps us make and recall memories. People think, learn, and make decisions better when well-rested. Healthy adults need at least 7 hours of sleep per night, and sometimes more.
Light makes our body clocks tick
The body's cycles run on timing directed by an internal clock, called our circadian rhythm. Internal clocks are driven by many external cues. One of the strongest external cues is exposure to light.
Few of us wake up with the sun rising and go to bed when it sets. Other artificial sources of light now commonly interfere with our body clock.
Daytime light is great. It wakes us up and regulates us. Exposure, especially early in the day, is critical to quality sleep.
Nighttime light is not so great. It messes with our body clock, making it harder to fall asleep and/or stay asleep. Reduce or eliminate it as much as you can. For example:
Turn off your electronic screens—If you absolutely must be on your computer late at night, dim the brightness
Use a dim alarm clock, and/or cover it up.
Get good curtains.
More sleep, better health
Sleep regulates our metabolism and helps keep us lean and healthy.
The later we go to bed and the shorter our sleep hours, the more likely we are to gain weight over time.
And because sleep helps regulate our blood sugar, lack of sleep can actually cause or worsen insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. In healthy people, they can make the risk factors for those diseases more likely.
Earlier sleep time can also mean less eating.
Many folks find that late night is a comforting time for a snack. At 11 p.m., the snack is rarely steamed broccoli. Staying in bed can reduce the temptation. Plus, being well-rested usually means fewer food cravings and smarter choices the next day.
More sleep makes you feel happier and saner.
Abnormal circadian rhythms have been associated with depression, bipolar disorder, and seasonal affective disorder.
What's one thing you can do to improve your sleep tonight?