How to Get the Best Sleep

Stress is the number one enemy of good night sleep!
Here is how to get your best sleep yet.

The body and mind need at least 7 hours of sleep to recharge. Stress and lack of sleep go hand in hand. I think we can all easily recognize signs of sleep deprivation. Our eyes are red and puffy. Our responses are slower. We feel groggy and most likely get aggravate effortlessly by everything in our immediate environment.

First, let’s take a look at the normal sleep cycle. There are five stages of sleep and all of them are important. We should be transitioning through all of the stages at least a few times during the night.

Stage 1:

The body is winding down and drifting into the sleep state. We might be conscious enough to be startled by light noises in the room or to respond when someone calls our name or says something. Sometimes, people in this stage of sleep are moving between being awake and sleep. Unfortunately, when we are too stressed to sleep, we can end up in this stage for an entire night and never get the restful sleep that we need for proper functioning the next day.

Stage 2:

The temperature of the body drops, we’re no longer aware of noises or movement in the room. The breathing and heart rate are still normal as they are when awake. The major difference between stage 1 and 2 is the fact that we are not aware of what is happening around us.

Stage 3 & 4:

Breathing slows down in these two stages. These are the deepest stages of sleep. Revitalizing and energizing happen here. Blood pressure is lower and more of the blood supply is going to our muscles, which are also more relaxed.

Stage 5:

The Rapid Eye Movement (REM) is when we dream. The eyes are darting back and forth and our bodies can’t move because the muscles during this stage of sleep are not functional. During REM sleep, the brain is also very active and getting energized. Most people move in and out of REM sleep every 90 minutes over the course of a night’s sleep.

 

 

Stress is a sleep inhibitor. It’s important to allow our body to experience each stage of sleep that should occur during the night but stress completely works against that. If we’re constantly in a state of stressful sleeplessness, our system/body might never reach the point of repairing muscles and the brain to rejuvenate.

There are so many sides effect from the lack of proper sleep. Here are few that are worth mentioning:

  1. Our immune system gets weakened, which makes us more vulnerable to viruses, bacteria and illnesses.
  2. We are throwing our hormones off balance, which can create or trigger an onset of many diseases like diabetes. You most likely will feel hungrier than usual.
  3. We are denying our body a chance to replenish and function optimally. As mentioned earlier, we feel sluggish and easily agitated. It might even lead to depression.

Now, let’s talk about sleep hygiene and what we can do to get the best sleep possible.

  1. Maintain a bed time schedule. It is best to go to bed and wake up at the same time each night. That includes weekends.
  2. Reduce your caffeine intake. It depends how fast your body can clear caffeine from your bloodstream. However, a general recommendation is to cut off caffeine by 1pm. Please remember that most sodas contains caffeine as well. You should be drinking water anyway!
  3. I know turning off computer and TV at least two hours before bedtime might not be realistic. However, I highly recommend investing in a pair of blue light blocking glasses. They don’t have to be expensive. Here are the ones I use:  https://klassyshop.com/. Start wearing them about 4h before bed or at sundown.
  4. Don’t go to bed with a full stomach but also remember not to go to bed too hungry. That will also keep you awake. Have your last meal no later than 2h before your bed time.
  5. Engage in regular exercise but not too close to bed time. Morning or mid-day exercise tend to be better for a good night sleep. Take a walk after dinner. It will promote restful sleep.
  6. Limit the beverage consumption before bed. Yes, you want to stay hydrated but drinking too much before bed will disturb your sleep. We’ve all had to get up to use a bathroom before.
  7. Keep your bedroom dark and quiet. Invest in a blackout curtain. Limit all light exposure, especially blue light coming from electronics. Move your phone farther away from your bed.
  8. Invest in a comfortable mattress and pillow. Yes, it is a must for a good night sleep. There are quite a few quality online companies that cut out the middlemen and make a nice mattress affordable. I p