When it comes to taking care of ourselves, getting enough sleep is one of the best things we can do.
Sleep is extremely important to our overall health. Many important physiological processes that heal and balance the body take place while we sleep. Science has also shown that while we sleep, the brain filters through the information we took in during the day, strengthening the connections for important information, while letting go of what is unnecessary. During sleep, the heart rate slows, respiration slows, and blood pressure drops. This slowdown takes pressure off the body, allowing it to rejuvenate.
Room for Improvement
Knowing how important our sleep is, what can we do to support it? Start with these seven tips:
1. Get on a regular schedule. The body has an internal clock and thrives when we do routine things (eating, sleeping, working) at about the same time each day.
2. Going to bed early enough to enter deep sleep before midnight is extremely beneficial, so get in bed by 10:00 or 10:30 p.m. at the latest.
3. Physical exercise during the day is a great way to support sleep. Just make sure your body has enough time to wind down before bed.
4. Refrain from, or limit, caffeine, and try not to go to bed either very hungry or very full.
5. Create a ritual before bed that helps you wind down—maybe a shower, reading, or some stretching.
6. Try to avoid too much contact with technology right before going to sleep.
7. If racing thoughts are what keep you up at night, keep a notebook beside your bed. If you begin to notice you can’t let go of a particular thought, write it down. Tell your mind, “Thank you. I’ve taken note of that. I will pick it up again in the morning. For now, it is time to rest.” Be kind, yet firm, with your mind.