We all know that sleep is important. However, not all of us realize how important sleep really is. Good sleep helps us to be happier, smarter, slimmer and healthier. And I'm not exaggerating.
So why the hell are we still not putting enough effort into getting a good night's sleep? If you want to quickly, realistically and tangibly improve the quality of life - it's time to take care of your sleep.
First step: Start sleeping longer.
I won't even begin to tell you how lack of sleep increases the risk of diabetes, heart disease, or ultimately mortality. Many don't care yet. Will care sometime. But now? Now you need to enjoy life! So sleep long? Ha! No thanks.
However, sleep also greatly affects our daily life. By sleeping just 30-60 minutes longer than before (or even the same, but improving the quality of sleep), we can start to feel much better.
Lack of sleep. What is its effect?
When we are constantly lacking sleep (almost all people need at least 7 hours sleep through the night), this negatively affects our:
- Mental activity (memory, attentiveness, problem solving, creativity improves).
- Psychological well-being (mood worsens, stress increases, risk of depression increases).
- Resistance to diseases (immunity weakens, the risk of diseases increases).
- Weight loss (appetite increases, craving for food).
This is how sleep (not) helps us to be happier, smarter, slimmer and healthier. However, more than a third of people still sleeps less than 7 hours. overnight. If you're one of them, you're probably thinking:
- Less than 7 hours of sleep per night is enough for my body.
- If I sleep longer, I will get less done.
- I don't have time or circumstances do not allow me to sleep longer.
But really? Let's examine these beliefs.
It says: "Less than 7 hours of sleep a night is enough for my body."
Is less than 7 hours really enough for some people? sleep through the night? Yes.
However, studies showthat only 1% in the total population can actually sleep that much without experiencing the negative effects of sleep deprivation (short sleepers). The rest have a chronic lack of sleep and their quality of life has fallen sharply.
There's a very good chance you're not getting enough sleep on less than 7 hours a night. But you don't notice it.
It says: "If I sleep longer, I'll get less done."
If your work is monotonous, then yes - the more time you work, the more work you will get done (but even then, with less sleep, you will make more mistakes).
However, many of us do mental work. And the better our mind works, the better work we will do. And the most effective way to improve mental performance is... to get a good night's sleep!
Scientists have found, that sleeping 6 hours or less per night for 2 weeks in a row, our mental performance reaches the same level as if we did not sleep for 48 hours without a break!
The most interesting thing is that the participants of the study were not even consciously aware of the lack of sleep. And they thought 6 (or less) hours of sleep was just fine for them!
So when we sleep too little, not only does our well-being suffer, but so does our productivity.
It says: "But there are plenty of very successful people in the world who sleep less than 7 hours a night!"
Of course. Maybe they're among the one percent of people who don't need that much sleep. Or they simply sacrifice their health and well-being for work, because work is more important to them than anything else. Or would they be even more productive (and successful) if they slept longer?
The founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates, initially worked nights in the office, but after a while he realized that he could not enjoy life enough when he was constantly lacking sleep. He was still writing in 2004:
"I haven't done that for a long time. I like to get 7 am. sleep through the night because it helps you stay insightful, creative and energetic.”
For many extremely successful people sleep is one of the highest priorities: the aforementioned Bill Gates, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, The Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington.
However, the importance of sleep isn't talked about much because it's boring! It's not the kind of stories that inspire us... We want to hear about the writer who worked nights and drank one cup of coffee after another to create a masterpiece!
However, this is starting to change and more and more people (including famous ones) are starting to realize and talk about the importance of sleep in achieving any goal.
It says: "I don't have time, circumstances do not allow me to sleep longer."
No matter how busy you are, everyone can find at least 7 hours of sleep. Are you saying you are busier than Bill Gates or Jeff Bezos?
By the way, studies show, that many people sleep less, not because they are too busy, but because they waste too much time in the evening watching TV or using their phones...
An excellent solution to this problem was provided by Valtininkas, a friend of Debesyla, in an article "How to get up easily in the morning":
"Go to bed on time. Set an alarm clock for the evening, and go to sleep when it rings. It rang - you're already in bed in 15 minutes. Repeat until it becomes a habit."
How to prevent sleep deprivation?
There are situations and periods when circumstances really do not allow you to sleep longer (for example, after having children). In this case, the accumulated sleep deficit can be reduced by napping during the day or by sleeping more on freer nights.
However, in doing so, the most common mistakes should be avoided.
a) Sleep on weekends
Most of us don't get enough sleep during the weekdays and spend the weekends in bed.
This is a huge mistake.
Long sleep on Saturday or Sunday disrupts our work week established wake-sleep rhythm – it is difficult to fall asleep early on Sunday night and to get up early on Monday morning.
So we start the week without rest and without reducing (or even increasing) the sleep deficit.
Therefore, if you go to bed very late on Friday or Saturday, it is better to get up early the next morning. 1
Let's say we go to bed at 11:00 PM on weekdays and get up at 7:00 AM. So, if you go to bed at 3:00 on Friday or Saturday, you should get up no later than 9:00, and go to bed earlier on Sunday - 21:00-22:00.
Since we will have slept less over the weekend, we will easily fall asleep earlier on Sunday, and after a long night of sleep (and actually sleeping, not tossing and turning in bed), we will wake up rested and energized for a busy week.
Also, if you wake up earlier on the weekend and feel sleepy during the day, you should take a nap.
b) Naps and siestas
Lying down can be a great way to get some energy and make up for some of the sleep deficit. However, napping too long during the day can make it difficult to fall asleep at night.
In addition, after lying down for more than 20-30 minutes (passing from the stage of light sleep to the phase of deep sleep), when we wake up, we feel even worse than before: sleep inertia appears.
Therefore, the nap should last no longer than 20-30 minutes.
Such a long nap will not take much time, will not disturb your night's sleep and will give you a burst of freshness and energy.
Second step: Improve the quality of sleep!
To get a better night's sleep, it's not enough just to start sleeping longer.
You can lie in bed for 7-9 hours, but you can't fall asleep for a long time (or wake up at night) and actually get much less sleep. Anyone who has experienced this knows what I'm talking about and how desperate it can make you feel.
As we've already discussed, time spent actually sleeping is far from wasted. But the time spent lying in bed and not sleeping? Oh yes!
What to do in the EVENING before falling asleep?
We cannot expect that when we decide to go to sleep, our body will suddenly click the "off" button and we will fall asleep immediately. It needs time and environmental cues to go into sleep mode.
1) Stick to a regular sleep schedule.
We have already talked a little about this. By regularly going to bed and getting up at the same time, our body begins to know when to release calming hormones (we fall asleep faster) and when to release stimulating hormones (we wake up more easily).
Therefore, we should try to go to bed and get up at the same time most nights. It doesn't matter what time we go to bed, it's more important that it's rhythmic.
Also, many people think that going to bed at 11:30pm and getting up at 7:30am counts as 8 hours of sleep. Not at all! If we promise to get up at 7:30 and want to get 8 hours of full sleep, we have to be in bed around 10:30 p.m. and sleep by 11:00 p.m.
2) Avoid blue light.
In the evening and at night, our body releases the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin. Darkness contributes the most to its production, and blue light slows down the most from computer, television, phone and tablet screens.
So, to fall asleep faster, we should avoid screens a few hours before sleep, as Debesyla has tried.
However, this is not necessary. There are apps that block the blue light emitted by smart devices, so we can sit quietly at the computer or use the phone before going to sleep and not disturb the production of melatonin:
- It is designed for computers application f.lux.
- The Windows 10 operating system has similar settings recorded with the system.
- Almost all phones also have filters that block blue light (you need to look for the blue light filter in the settings).
I have installed and always activated the f.lux application on my computer, in which, after entering my time zone and wake-up time, the application starts to suppress the computer's blue light more and more as I get closer to going to bed.
At the time, I was using a blue light filter on my phone, which I set in the settings to start blocking blue light 2 hours before I go to bed (I go to bed at 11 pm, so the filter automatically turns on at 9 pm).
Speaking of TVs, the latest smart TVs are also starting to have this blue light blocking feature. What to do if your TV is older and does not have such a parameter? Several options:
- Do not watch TV before going to bed.
- Connect a computer to the TV (using the HDMI connection) and thus watch Internet TV, Netflix or anything else with a blue light filter.
While all this blue light blocking may seem like a lot of trouble (it's not), I promise if you have trouble falling asleep quickly (and getting a good night's sleep), blocking (or avoiding) blue light will be one of the most effective ways to help with this problem.
In addition, before going to sleep, you should also not engage in intense mental activity and spend at least 30-60 minutes relaxing. Meditation and other relaxing hobbies like drawing or reading would help with this.
Again, you don't need to throw your phone, computer or TV out the window, just remember to use apps that block blue light and don't engage in activities that require a lot of thinking or are very engaging (like working on a computer or watching serious movies/series).
3) Sleep in a cool + dark + quiet room.
In the cool
Most people sleeps best in a cool room (at a temperature of 18-21 degrees).
Personally, I felt a big difference after starting to sleep in a cool (I would even say cold) room. Only one minus - when you get up in the morning you feel like you are in the ice age!
How to shade the room? In summer, you can open the window (if it is not hotter and there is no noise), set the air conditioner to a cooler mode (if you have such a pleasure) or simply - sleep under a thinner blanket or without pajamas.
In the dark.
We have already discussed that light interferes with the production of melatonin, so you should sleep in complete darkness at night. Buying night curtains or using a sleep mask would help here. Trust me - it could be one of your best investments.
We are silent.
It's probably clear to everyone, but it still needs to be mentioned - sleep in complete silence. If it is not possible to silence the surrounding sounds, it would be a good idea to use earplugs or sound-reducing headphones.
If there is no way to reduce the noise, it can be masked while listening white noise or similar sound, nature sound generator. Our hearing naturally accepts monotonous noise as "silence" after several tens of minutes. If white noise is too funny for you, there is also pink noise. Play around.
True, silence is still best.
What to do in the MORNING after getting up?
We've all snoozed the alarm many times or woken up (even after a long sleep) sleepless and confused. How to avoid it?
1) Get up in the stage of light sleep.
Sleep happens in different stages (one phase usually lasts about 90 minutes on average). If we wake up in a deep sleep stage, we feel sleepless and confused. If you are in a light sleep phase, you are much more refreshed and alert.
So how do you wake up in the phase of light sleep?
There are apps that wake us up at exactly this time (for example Sleep Cycle and Sleep for Android). Their principle is simple - they follow our movements at night. We usually move more during light sleep and less during deep sleep. So, when we start moving more, they wake us up and when we wake up we feel much more refreshed and alert.
You may have heard that the mobile phone should be as far away from the bed as possible at night, because it emits electromagnetic waves that disturb sleep. However, this is not necessary. By turning on the airplane mode, the so-called electromagnetic smog is reduced to a minimum and we can keep the phone as best as possible in the bedroom.
Also, these apps work with smart watches and sports watches, so you may not even need a phone.
But keep in mind that even waking up in a deep sleep stage does not affect the quality of our sleep. The only difference is that it is harder to get up.
Personally, I don't try to wake up in an easy phase specifically (with the help of apps), because I don't have problems getting up in any state, but for those who can't get out of bed at all, they can be useful. For others, it is not necessary.
2) Get natural light.
Natural light in the morning stops the production of melatonin and increases alertness. Therefore, as soon as you wake up, you should get natural light: open the curtains or, even better, go out into the yard, take a walk, walk the animal, exercise.
Even when the Lithuanian sky is overcast, it would still be worth going out into the yard when it's lit up. Natural light is useful even through clouds.
3) Drink some water.
As soon as you wake up, you should drink water. It will also help you wake up. So instead of getting up, hitting the alarm clock, and staying in bed without going anywhere or pulling back the curtains (so that you don't fall asleep and use your phone), get up, open the curtains, and drink some water.
You will feel a big difference because you sweat a surprising amount of water while you sleep. You can also drink coffee, because coffee does not dehydrate your body.
What to do DAY, before the evening?
1) Avoid caffeine in the afternoon.
Caffeine in the second half of the day not only makes it difficult to fall asleep in the evening, but also negatively affects deep sleep at night. Therefore, caffeine should be avoided less than 6 hours before bedtime.
2) Get natural light.
Natural light during the day increases melatonin production in the evening and improves the quality of sleep at night. Therefore, during the day you should try to get out into the yard as much as possible and get natural light.
3) Do sports.
Along with countless other benefits, regular exercise does too helps you sleep better.
Still, an intense evening workout less than 4 hours before bedtime can negatively affect the quality of sleep at night Therefore, if possible, exercise should be done in the morning, during lunch or in the evening.
However, studies show that if the circumstances do not allow it, evening training for sleep will still be more beneficial than no sport at all.
When you sleep well, everything is better.
I hope that this article will not only motivate you to take care of your sleep, but also help you put it into practice.
Maybe it's time for you to go to bed?
And more practical and science-based articles on healthy living and nutrition (for example, how create a nutrition plan or observe intermittent fasting) can be found on my blog Nutrition is different.
Until the next time!
True, no later than 1-2 hours. from the usual waking time, and on Sunday go to bed at 1-2 p.m. earlier than usual.↩