Chances are if you’ve ever turned to someone in a time of need ‘sleeping on it’ is one piece of advice you’ll have heard. And for good reason too. A good night’s sleep seems to be a fool proof way to put your mind at rest and give you a clearer head. But it isn’t just the perfect antidote for those times of stress; it is also integral to our general wellbeing.
In addition to boosting our mood, improving our concentration and keeping our body in tip top condition, getting a good 8 hours of shut eye is vital for protecting our mental health too. Not only does sleep help our minds process what we learn but it is also crucial for keeping our neurons in shape. Like our body, neurons also feel the effects of overuse and fatigue is a common side effect of this. A continued lack of sleep reduces the efficiency of our brain function making us more susceptible to stress, anxiety and even depression.
Diagnosing sleep deprivation may seem easy enough – falling asleep at your desk is usually a good sign – however, medical experts say that drowsiness during even the most mundane tasks could be an indicator that you need an extra 40 winks. Experiencing lethargy during the day, whether slight or extreme, could be a sign that your body didn’t get the rest it needed the night before, so next time you feel yourself drifting of whilst filling out your tax returns, it might not be all those tedious forms that are to blame.
General advice suggests adults need seven or eight hours of sleep each night, although this is often easier said than done. If falling asleep is sometimes harder than it sounds there are a few habits you can adopt to make drifting off easier.
Timing Is Everything
It may feel difficult at first, but a little perseverance will train your body to fall asleep on cue. Set a specific time to go to bed each night and stick to it – even if it’s frustrating. After a few nights your body will adapt and soon enough the signal to sleep will be automatic. To reinforce this further apply this technique to waking up as well.
Develop A Routine
Your body loves routine and adjusts to a new one surprisingly easy. Before you go to bed, design a routine that will help you wind down. Reading or listening to calming music are two of the most effective ways to let your body relax and begin the transition into sleep. Avoid anything too stimulating just before bed, so switch of the TV and put your phone down.
A healthy diet ensures your body receives all the nutrients it needs to function properly. Alcohol, caffeine and nicotine are three barriers to a peaceful night’s sleep so it’s a good idea to limit these if you are experiencing difficulty drifting off. If you find yourself still unable to sleep, taking up exercise can help to rid your body of excess energy.
Sleep plays an integral role in keeping your body functioning as it should do. So next time you feel yourself nodding off, treat yourself to an extra hour in bed – it could be just the boost you need.
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