Without the proper amount of rest we cannot function at our greatest capacity. According to the National Sleep Foundation less than 71% of us get under eight hours of sleep per night. Sleep is critical for controlling our health and maintaining our emotional well-being. Scientific studies, including one published in the journal “Sleep” in 2005, report that sleeping less than 8 hours a night leads to obesity. And, according to a Harvard study, the less people sleep, the more likelihood they will acquire a major illness. Findings from Columbia University reveal that less than five hours of sleep per night increases a person’s risk of getting high blood pressure by 60%. In addition, a British study indicates we are twice as likely to get heart disease if we are sleep deprived. Moreover, lack of sufficient rest slows down the production of our brain cells according to a sleep study published from Princeton University.
According to the U.S. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, more than 1.6 million adults in the U.S. are using alternative therapies to treat insomnia. What follows is a list of does and don’ts to ensure that we get the right amount of rest so that we will awake energetic and fully refreshed.
What You Can Do to Get More Sleep
- Do consider sleep important enough that you set a goal to get 8 hours of it a night
- If you neglected to get 8 hours of sleep compensate for the lost hours by napping (no more than 25 minutes according to WebMD).
- Do develop routine sleep habits.
- Do make it a priority to set aside quiet time for yourself before bedtime.
- Do take a hot bath or shower prior to going to bed.
- Do some form of stress reduction such as reading or participating in a relaxing activity (such as meditation or listening to a soothing piece of music) just before turning in for the night.
- Do discuss the importance of your sleep with those you are sharing your living space with (your roommate, spouse, other members of your family or visiting house guests).
- Do darken the room prior to going to bed – shut out light.
- Do consider using earplugs to block out outside noise if necessary
- Do invest in a firm mattress that makes you feel comfortable.
- Do ensure that you have sufficient bedding and that the temperature of your bedroom or sleeping area is not too hot or too cold.
- Do make certain you have enough ventilation where you sleep.
- Do minimize sleep interruptions such as; avoiding drinking liquids awhile before retiring for the night so that you will not have to get up to use the facilities in the middle of the night.
What Not to Do
- Do not alter your regular sleep schedule more than one hour or two
- Do not eat a meal for several hours before sleeping especially one that is high in protein
- Do not exercise prior to bed
- Do not drink cola or caffeinated drinks for several hours before going to sleep
- Do not smoke (cigarettes are stimulants and will keep you from sleeping according to the National Sleep Foundation)
- Do not use artificial sweeteners
- Do not force yourself to sleep right after an unsettling experience
- Do not use your computer before bed – it will suppress melatonin (which protects the body against cancer)
- Do not drink large amounts of alcohol to induce sleep (Dr. Karl Doghramji warns it will disrupt sleep later in the sleep cycle, so you will wake up several times during the night).
- Do not worry about falling asleep
Copyright©2010 All right reserved – Victoria L. Rayner
More Information on the Subject:
Video on sleep Restriction and Deprivation
How Circadian Rhythm Affects Our Sleep
Aromatherapy for Better Sleep
How Medications and Vitamins Affect Our Sleep
Best Mattress Ratings
Take this Quiz – Are You Making These 7 Mistakes that Are Costing You Sleep?