A post from our Community Correspondent Marilena Balagianni
Sleep is essential for our health, but most of us find it difficult to get enough.
I think it is time to set the right priorities and get a good sleep, every night. Scientists don’t know exactly how much is enough and it could vary between individuals. We do know, though, that 5-6 hours of sleep, a ‘normal’ sleep time for many is unacceptable for the health of our minds and our bodies.
Lack of sleep has been linked to diabetes, weight gain, heart disease and even death. We can literally survive more time being food-deprived than sleep-deprived.
Without sleep, the brain gets the signal that we are ready for a fight, and the part of the brain necessary for logical reasoning is shut down, making us prone to emotional melt-downs. Lack of memory, anxiety, paranoia and hallucinations have also been linked to lack of sleep.
I’ve struggled with sleep in the past, but there are a few things that I have found helpful.
Getting more sleep means changing habits and that takes resilience and strong motivation. My tips are very basic, but they need to be used regularly, as a developed habit to work. If I ‘fail’ once, I don’t stop, but focus on the ultimate goal: improving life by improving sleep.
So let’s begin…
- Schedule your sleep and make it a priority. Bed is not a place of work. It is for rest. Turn your pc off 1-2 hours before you go to bed. Take your phone away from your bed. Sleep is the most important thing in your life, for your body and brain.
- Have a regular morning and night routine. Try night rituals like stretching, reading or meditating. Drink chamomile tea or have a bath with lavender oil. Try journaling before going to bed, maybe even make a journal solely about your life changes related to sleep. Go to bed even if you are not that sleepy and wake up at a regular time. With time, becomes a part of your system.
- Quit caffeine and alcohol. Or try drinking them only occasionally, starting with consuming a little less every day.
- Your room has to have the right temperature and the right lighting (which is: no lighting). You can try a sleep mask if there is any external light bothering you. If your neighbours are noisy get ear plugs too. Don’t sleep with music or TV on. Convince your brain that it is sleep time.
- If you are not already doing so, start exercising. Your body will be more balanced and your stress hormones will be reduced. But, avoid exercising 1-2 hours before going to bed.
- Eat three hours before going to bed. Great foods to prepare you for bed are ripe bananas, potatoes and pasta. Avoid too many spices and oils.
I am doing all of these and it is working for me! The most difficult for me is food. I eat too much and sometimes it is not easy to sleep. ☺ I am so much happier now and it is worth it. Freedom sometimes comes from self-regulation and persistence!