Each night, when I go to sleep, I die. And the next morning, when I wake up, I am reborn.
According to the Sleep Foundation, half of the American population says feeling sleepy throughout the day at least three times a week. Around 35% of all US adults report sleeping less than seven hours per night, with the recommended amount being of nine hours for adults between 18 and 65 years old. A global survey recently pointed out that 62% of adults admit not sleeping as well as they would like and, although they would like to sleep better, the majority don’t seek help to do so. It would be interesting if these surveys explored people’s attitudes toward sleep, and sleep education to better understand the context of these statistics.
Besides what we think and feel about sleep, there are lifestyle factors that can either hinder or promote a good night’s rest. Sleep plays a valuable role in our health and well-being. The lack of sleep can aggravate mental health problems and create an unwanted feedback loop. I know people who have slept poorly for years and see positive changes in their mood once they restore a natural sleeping cycle. Although we can’t change certain aspects that affect sleep, there are lifestyle factors that we can work with to improve sleep and repair not only our body but also our mind. Here are three changes that will help you restore sleep.
Avoid Caffeine After 2PM
This can be a hard one for those of us who love coffee or tea, but reducing caffeine after 2PM can help you benefit from greater sleep at night. Caffeine has the inconvenience of making our sleep shorter and lighter. It also seems to block adenosine, a neurotransmitter thought to promote sleep. If you are highly sensitive, especially avoid caffeine after 12PM.
In a similar fashion, alcohol also decreases the quality of sleep. Although some people may find it easier to fall asleep after a drink, the truth is that alcohol’s soporific effect is short-lived. It also suppresses REM sleep and it can cause us to wake up several times during the night.
Exercising during the day, and especially aerobic exercise (e.g. walking), helps us fall asleep faster and experience a greater amount of deep sleep. Practicing exercise regularly also decreases the chance of waking up in the middle of the night. Just avoid it 2h before bedtime since exercising activates and stimulates the nervous system, making it harder to fall asleep.
Sleep has a great impact on our health and well-being. A good night’s sleep means we give time to our body and mind repair and recover from the day’s activities. Although each person’s sleeping needs are individual, the average recommended amount of sleep is 9h for working adults. To make sure you stay asleep throughout this time, it’s good to rethink your lifestyle habits and change what you can. Eliminating caffeine after 2PM, avoiding alcohol, and exercising more are some of the lifestyle factors that impact sleep and which are under your control.
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Stoics seem to give great lifestyle advice. In a quick recent research, I discovered that Marcus Aurelius used to follow and suggest a set of behaviours and activities that are meant to generate stillness and promote both body and mind awareness. Altogether, these aspects contribute to a greater capacity to be virtuous and act accordingly.…Keep reading