Guest Author: Sheila Olson
Sleep is underrated. About one-third of adults don’t get the recommended seven hours of sleep per night, and many of us long for the days when we could wake up late and take afternoon naps. We might even have regrets about the times we were forced to nap as kids. Nowadays, we wish someone would force us to nap.
Why Is Sleep So Important?
A good night’s rest is a vital part of our bodily functions. Sleep leads to more energy, better mobility, muscle recovery, improved moods, mental clarity, and a stronger memory. Not sleeping can lead to sluggishness, brain fog, depression, difficulty managing stress, trouble concentrating, and more. Despite all of the touted benefits of sleep, the benefits go beyond that of physical energy and mental performance.
Adequate sleep can help with fat loss and weight management. The more rested you are, the better you’ll perform during your fitness sessions. A tired body can’t get through a HIIT workout the way a well-rested one can.
And regardless of how well you eat throughout the day, all of the good that you put into your body can be undone by poor sleep. Lack of sleep results in a rise in cortisol, which is the stress hormone linked to fat gain. Sleep also controls leptin, which helps you feel satiated, and ghrelin, which makes you feel hungry. Without sleep, your body can’t control leptin and ghrelin production, leading you to feel hungrier and less satiated. All of that translates to eating more.
Believe it or not, beauty rest is a real thing. When you’re rested, your skin looks more radiant, your eyes look more awake and less puffy, and the damage done to your skin is restored overnight. You also feel more vibrant and energetic — ready to take on the day after recovering from yesterday. Sleep is the fountain of youth and beauty. It’s the way your body refreshes and renews itself day after day.
How Can I Get More Sleep?
To get the most out of your nightly slumber and wake up feeling and looking refreshed, try these three things:
1. Paint your room. One thing that could be keeping you from a good night’s sleep is the color of your room. Bright colors and patterns can be too stimulating, while light blues and earth tones have a calming effect. Stick to colors that are lighter, softer, and more neutral. Neutral tones like tan, gray, and cream are sleep-conducive colors to paint your bedroom walls. Work on reducing the clutter in your room as well. Even when it’s dark inside, busy walls and cluttered floors could make it harder to let your mind relax when it’s time to sleep at night.
2. Go to bed at the same time each night. Your body exists on a cycle every day, and when you put yourself on a regular sleep schedule, it gets used to feeling tired at that time. Your circadian rhythm gets thrown out of whack when you change up your sleep schedule. Set the same bedtime every night, even on the weekends.
3. Turn off electronics at night. The blue light from your phone keeps you awake at night because it disrupts the production of melatonin. Being on your phone can also be stimulating during a time when your brain should be shutting down. It’s best to put down your phone a half hour before bed and leave it in another room overnight. Most people are consuming media or surfing the net in the evenings before bed, and neither of those things is as important as your need for sleep. Scroll less, sleep more.
You might be someone who has never prioritized sleep, or you might be someone who attempts to sleep but is frustrated with your inability to do so. Whether you’re having difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or getting quality sleep, it’s never a lost cause. When you optimize your sleep strategy, you can get the most out of a restful night.
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