In our efforts to live a healthy lifestyle, most of us know the importance of choosing healthy foods to eat and getting enough exercise. One area of health that many tend to ignore, on the other hand, is good sleep habits.
May is “Better Sleep Month,” according to the Better Sleep Council – the perfect time to take a look at your sleep life and make sure you are getting the rest your body needs.
The Importance of Sleep
Lack of sleep can lead to a number of serious concerns in all areas of life, including your health and relationships. According to BetterSleep.org, married couples who don’t get enough sleep, on average, have twice as many disagreements each week. That explains it.
Getting a Good Night’s Rest
There are a few habits that can significantly improve your quality of rest.
Establish a routine. Going through the same motions each night as you head to bed trains your body to relax. Going to sleep and waking up around the same time each day is also helpful.
Are you getting enough? Adults need an average of 7-9 hours per night; children need more. Each person is different – the goal is to wake up feeling refreshed without an alarm.
Pay off ‘sleep debt.’ Ideally, we’ll all get enough sleep each and every night. At the very least, do try to squeeze in extra hours on the weekends if you need to.
Exercise daily. Getting physical activity in during the day is correlated with deeper, more restful sleep.
Lower the lights. Follow nature’s cue and don’t expose yourself to too much artificial lighting, including laptops and cell phones at night. Light stimulates the brain. I try and do this for my children before bed so they can get into the zone gradually.
- Improve indoor air quality. Poor indoor air due to cigarette smoke, dust and other pollutants is linked to poor sleep. Open your windows when weather permits and clean ducts regularly. You can even use Dr. Doormat by your bedroom door to prevent allergens from coming in. Clean off that nightstand! Piles of magazines and papers attract dust and dust mites and will effect your breathing. HelpGuide.org offers a comprehensive resource for good sleep habits.
- Some tricks to block out annoying or distracting sounds can include ear plugs and sound machines creating white noise.
Some sleep issues are best solved with the help of a healthcare professional. Signs you should seek help for a sleep disorder are:
chronic daytime fatigue
loud snoring with frequent pauses
tingling sensations in your arms and legs at night
falling asleep at inappropriate times during the day.
Getting a good night’s rest is one of the most important things you can do to improve your well-being. Encourage your family members to make sleep a priority as well!
May Every Step You Take Be Healthy!