So many of us talk about how much we love sleep. In the same breath we also lament the fact that we simply don’t get enough.
Usually our stories are told with a yearning for shut eye so we can feel refreshed, rested and have the proper energy to start our day.
And then we sigh and share the reason why we didn’t sleep. Kids. Work. Commitments. Insomnia. The list goes on.
But how many of the reasons above are why we don’t get enough sleep on a regular basis? I can use lots of excuses, but if I am going to be honest with myself, I usually don’t get enough sleep because I treasure the evening hours. I love when the house is quiet and I can read, relax or write. It’s my time. And most nights I simply lose track. When I finally look at the clock it is so much later than I thought it would be.
And I wonder, “how did that happen?”
Because I was going to go to bed early tonight.
But I didn’t. And I didn’t last night either.
The sleep deprivation cycle continues.
The thing is, most of us still need to get up and face the day at the same time each morning. If you have young children, you know they will make sure that you get up at the same time every day. Or maybe you have a dog that needs to be walked regardless of your need for rest. Or you have to make an early meeting. For many of us the days of sleeping in are gone, gone, gone.
We have commitments; we have lives.
Our modern world requires that we never really get enough sleep.
Or does it?
Actually, it is possible for most of us to wake up refreshed each day. The key is to log enough hours of quality sleep.
Not Getting Enough Sleep is a Public Health Issue
According to the Centers for Disease Control, insufficient sleep is a public health problem.
“Persons experiencing sleep insufficiency are also more likely to suffer from chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, depression, and obesity, as well as from cancer, increased mortality, and reduced quality of life and productivity. Sleep insufficiency may be caused by broad scale societal factors such as round-the-clock access to technology and work schedules, but sleep disorders such as insomnia or obstructive sleep apnea also play an important role.”
If you think you may have a sleep disorder like sleep apnea, definitely talk to your doctor. And if you have prolonged insomnia, let your physician know because it might be a symptom of another health issue.
When possible, focus on what you can change. Here are some sleep tips that I’ve slowly been incorporating with success.
3 Tips to Increase Your Quality of Sleep
- Turn off all electronic devices AT LEAST one hour before bed. We hear this advice all of the time, but how many of us take it seriously? There have been many nights when I have worked on my computer until drifting off to sleep. It’s not a good habit. To help your brain wind down, turn off the screens.
- No sugar or caffeine in the evenings. That’s right. This means skipping dessert and foregoing that cup of coffee after 4pm. If you are extra sensitive to caffeine, keep your consumption to the mornings or work to eliminate caffeine completely. Both sugar and caffeine perk you up before you come crashing down. If you want something sweet to eat, see if you can fit it into the middle of your day, before the evening hours. You do not want to stimulate your body and then try to convince it to go to sleep.
- Create a bedtime ritual. Do you like to fall asleep while reading a good book? Do you like to drink a glass of herbal tea (non-caffeinated, of course) or warm milk before bed? Create a routine that signals to your body that it is time to drift off to sleep.
We may not be able to follow these recommendations every night, but the more consistently we follow the tips above, the easier it will be to get the rest we need.
What tips do you have for getting a good night’s sleep? Please share in the comments section below.