Turns out, it is very important. In fact, a lack of sleep (specifically less than 6 hours) can shorten your life. Recent research conducted in Italy and published in England showed that in addition to the expected health related issues regarding sleep deprivation such as type 2 diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, it can also lead to premature death. Additionally, the study also showed that sleeping in excess of 9 hours a night regularly can also shorten life – due to probable underlying health concerns. The right number? Between 6 and 8 hours a night.
Sleeplessness and difficulty staying asleep is a growing concern in modern society. Many people get an average of 5 hours of sleep a night due to long hours and pressures at work. Lack of sleep can then lead to poor eating habits, increased stress levels and illness which can then shorten one’s life.
Here are some suggestions to help you fall asleep and stay asleep. The most important thing is getting to bed at a reasonable hour and avoid staying up late. Due to the body’s natural rhythms, we have the best chance of getting a good night’s sleep if we are in bed no later than 10:30. Beyond 11pm, you run the risk of hitting a new stride and getting a second wind that could keep you up until 2 in the morning. Create a bedtime ritual and stick with it. Getting a good night’s sleep is a great way to improve your health, your life, and your productivity. Following are some pointers towards improved sleep hygiene.
6 Tips for Better Night Sleep
1. Watch food and beverage intake. This includes caffeine, alcohol or large meals before bed. Keep in mind that coffee has an 8 to 10 hour half-life. If you consume your last cup at noon, it could still affect the soundness of your sleep.
2. Monitor exercise patterns. Exercising at night may help you to sleep better. However, do not exercise within 2 hours of bedtime as this can energize you and keep you up longer than desired.
3. Avoid computer work right before bed. This is very stimulating to the central nervous system, as is watching TV until you fall asleep. Our minds are always picking up ideas, suggestions and sounds, and TV and the internet can often be loaded with depressing and somewhat depleting information. TV in particular can be a challenge, especially when endeavoring to eat healthfully with all the different food commercials subconsciously prompting us to indulge.
4. Improve sleep environment. Make it very dark in the room. Or get a sleep mask. Put a few lavender drops on a tissue and tuck it inside your pillowcase, or use a diffuser to diffuse the lavender oil throughout the room. Lavender oil massaged into the soles of the feet has also been known to deepen sleep.
5. Sit in meditation for a few minutes before going to bed, to quieten the mind’s chatter. As you develop a regular meditation practice (even as little as 5 minutes every night) you will find it becomes easier to set aside your stress, tension and worry before getting into bed to sleep. This can also be a good way to start the day in the morning – to create balance and set a steady pace for the day ahead.
6. Create a bedtime ritual. Aim to go to sleep at the same time every night, wash your face and teeth.