…is when you’re asleep.
Sleep science is a relatively new area of focus for the wellness and medical community, although most of us know intuitively how important sleep is for mind and body health, and an overall sense of well being. It is recommended that adults have at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night. In fact, we are learning that sleep is perhaps more important than nutrition and exercise for maintaining healthy body weight; ensuring mental alertness, performance and memory during the day, and warding off disease. Particularly in America, many reports and studies point to a lack of adequate sleep as an epidemic; sleeplessness contributes to or is correlated with countless health issues, accidents, and errors in the workplace.
Our ability to transition to sleep and stay there is largely driven by hormone activity. Very simply stated, factors that agitate or stimulate stress hormones keep our bodies and minds alert in the fight/flight state. When we add swirling thoughts to the mix, it’s no wonder people have difficulty getting a good night’s sleep. Many of you have told me that it is a challenge to sleep at night with any degree of depth or consistency.
The good news is that there is a lot you can do to improve the likelihood of getting the restorative, high quality sleep you need. Maybe the most important thing is to make it a priority and be willing to adjust some facets of your lifestyle to get there.
Sleep hygiene (as it’s called) includes things like the presence of electronics. You’re not going to like this, but I’m going to tell you that your bedroom should never see TVs, cell phones, e-readers, computers, laptops, e-notebooks, e-games, and probably even alarm clocks that plug into the wall. Also, consider shutting down all electronics a full hour before bedtime. Why? It’s a chain reaction: your eyes need rest from the light of the electronics so they can begin to signal the brain that it’s dark outside so that your brain can begin to release melatonin which is a hormone that helps you get drowsy.
Other sleep hygiene factors and similar types of chain reactions involve the following:
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