September is self-improvement month, and we think this couldn’t be a better time! We’re getting closer to the end of the year and realize we have a few goals to set before welcoming 2020, in fact for many September is when we start to see big health movements especially a big change in diet with many jumping on the September Whole 30. Did you know that true self-improvement starts with better sleep? Our mental, physical and emotional health depend on truly restorative sleep.
We’re sure you have heard the statement “We spend a third of our lives sleeping” many times, but did you stop to think that could mean approximately twenty-five years of your life. There’s a reason we should be investing those hours sleeping, studies have shown that sleep is actually just as important as diet and exercise when it comes to our health.
Researchers from the University of Washington’s Medical Sleep Center are the first to show suppressed immune gene expression in chronic sleep deprivation. They compared adult identical twins and found the one who regularly slept less was sick the most. This supports earlier research that showed when giving sleep-deprived subjects a rhinovirus they were more likely to catch a cold. Who is sleep-deprived? According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 25% of American adults report insufficient sleep at least 15 days out of the month. The recommendation for adults is 7-9 hours of sleep, however, 30% of the working population gets less than six hours per night.
Even though most of us are quite aware of the importance of sleep, we don’t really make changes to improve that sleep that will help us improve our overall selves. In case you needed the motivation, some of the negative effects of prolonged lack of sleep quality can have on your body and mind include:
- Difficulty learning. Sleep deprivation is linked with neurocognitive consequences ranging from performance decrements (difficulties in focusing), slower response times, and decreased cognitive ability. It also has effects on our ability to process and remember new information.
- Headaches. Researchers link poor sleep quality to migraines and headaches.
- Irritability and mood swings. Research has found that disturbances tend to bother us more when we haven’t slept for enough time.
- Poor vision. Sleep deprivation is linked with tunnel vision, double vision, and dimness. The less you sleep, the more visual errors you’ll see.
- Weight gain. Receiving fewer hours of sleep may also impact metabolism in a manner that contributes to obesity. If we don’t get enough sleep, researchers have found that we tend to snack more and pick calorie-rich foods.
- Immune function. A scientific study found that people who slept only a few hours per night were more likely to get a cold.
- Gastrointestinal issues. Research has found the relationship between sleep dysfunction and some gastrointestinal issues such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), acid reflux, or colon cancer.
- Sexual desire. Getting enough sleep is important for promoting a healthy sexual drive.
If you were able to check off a few of those then you should start to prioritize your sleep quality for true self-improvement this month. There are many ways you can improve your sleep and most of them require less effort than going on a diet or even hitting the gym.
Here are Essentia’s Top 5 Tips for Improving Sleep
KEEP IT COOL
Studies show that sleeping in a cool environment can help you get to sleep and sleep well. A great tip apart from dropping the thermostat is to sleep on a mattress that naturally keeps you cool, like Essentia mattresses, which depending on the model, have been tested to sleep on average 7 degrees cooler than your body temperature over an eight hour time period.
DROP THE DEVICES IN THE BEDROOM
As hard as it may be put the cell phone, laptop, and tablet in another room (if you really can’t imagine doing this then at least put the phone on airplane mode). The light from these devices can obstruct the body’s production of melatonin, which you need to help you sleep. This is probably going to be the hardest to accomplish, but with some determination and making it a part of your nightly routine you can get it done.
MAKE A NIGHTTIME ROUTINE
Create a ritual every night: leave all devices in another room, drink some hot tea, take a warm shower, read a bit (from an actual book) and snuggle into bed. Creating a new habit can take longer than you thought, but you will reap the rewards of getting amazing sleep that can help you create more new, healthy habits along the way. Pick a wind-down routine that best fits your lifestyle and you will succeed.
KEEP A SLEEP SCHEDULE
Go to bed and get up at the same time every day! Being consistent means you can eventually ditch the alarm clock as your body naturally knows when it’s time to wake up. This also means an alarm at night to remind you to begin your nighttime routine will be just as important as your morning alarm. Each person has a different sweet spot of how many hours of sleep a night you need between 7 and 9. Try different bedtimes and wake up times, takes notes of how you feel on 7 hours of sleep vs 8 hours of sleep vs 9 hours of sleep. You’ll notice slight differences and be able to tell which day you were operating at your best.