LET’S TALK ABOUT THE Zzzz’s
Sleep. We all need it, and in an ever fast paced world with our fast paced lifestyles, we never seem to have enough of it. Letâ€™s take a minute to talk about that wonderful world of dreams which may have more to do with your health than you think.
Scientists have long known the benefits of a good nightâ€™s rest. Our sleep cycles affect many aspects of our lives including immune function, metabolism, memory, learning and other vital functions. Dr. Robert Stickgold, Director of Harvardâ€™s Center for Sleep and Cognition said this about sleep at the 2014 Forum for Optimum Health, Â â€śIf we donâ€™t get enough sleep our immune system doesnâ€™t function, we only make half as many anti-bodies against infection when we donâ€™t get enough sleep. Our endocrine systemâ€¦our hormone system start to break down.Â If you have kids in college and have them only get four hours of sleep at night, [after] four or five days they start to look like they haveâ€¦Type 2 diabetes.Â It might be that a lot of this epidemic of obesity is an epidemic of inadequate sleep, and thatâ€™s whatâ€™s causing people to eat more and become obese.â€ťÂ
Not only does sleep affect our physical well being, sleep is a key in our mental and emotional lives.Â Studies have found that many aspects of learning hinge on getting a good nightâ€™s rest.Â Sleep helps solidify, or consolidate, new information. So when a friend asks â€śWhat did you do this weekend?â€ť and you canâ€™t remember which movie you went to, it may be because your sleep deprivation isnâ€™t letting your brain consolidate (store) information.Â Sleep is also about quality not quantity. You may be in bed for 8 hours but you might only be getting a few hours of quality, restful sleep. Â So thatâ€™s the bad news, now what can we do to get this dream boat of ours turned in the right direction? Here are a few tips to tuck your brain in for a good nightâ€™s sleep.
LIMIT STIMULANT INTAKE
This is nobodyâ€™s favorite topic. Just know youâ€™re not alone in planning your route to work around the nearest Starbucks location or always finding your way to the office vending machines for a caffeine boosted soda during those long, afternoon lulls at work.Â When it comes to sleep and caffeine, less is better; meaning, less caffeine means better sleep.Â If you canâ€™t cut it out completely, make sure to cut yourself off after 5:00 P.M. for a better nightâ€™s sleep. Nicotine will have a similar effect. So if at all possible, make your afternoon cigarette your last cigarette of the day.
This may sound obvious, but a tired body sleeps best. Studies have shown that at least 20 minutes of exercise a day has amazing benefits on your overall health, one of those benefits being a better nightâ€™s sleep. Just like caffeine though, any exercise done in the late evening hour before bed mayÂ have a negative impact on sleep. Try to exercise at least 4 hours prior to sleep so your body has time to lower its heart rate and taper off production of chemicals released during exercise.
NATURAL SLEEP AIDS
These are the easy fixes that take just a few minutes before bed. Lavender essential oil has long been used as a sleep aid. Put a few drops of lavender on your pillow or diffuse in a bedroom diffuser to assist in a good nightâ€™s sleep. Chamomile is another great essential oil that can be used to help with sleep. Add a few drops of chamomile to your evening tea or diffuse chamomile in your bedroom diffuser. Melatonin supplements are also a great source for sleep aid.Â Remember to consult your physician before using any of these sleep aids to see if they are right for you.