You have put out the lights. Snuggled cozily under your blanket and closed your eyes..
2 hours later, with sleep no closer than the moon, you’re still tossing and turning. You finally manage to drift into a fitful sleep for a measly 4 hours and stagger out of bed the next morning weak, groggy, looking like a mess and feeling worse…
You’re not alone. About two-thirds of the Australian adult population struggle with sleeping at night and might not be getting enough.
Why Is Sleep So Important?
Sleep deprivation has been fingered in the Chernobyl nuclear meltdown, the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill and the Challenger spacecraft explosion, among other cataclysmic catastrophes caused by sleep deprivation.
Getting a good shut-eye every night is vital to your general wellbeing. While you are asleep, your body actively maintains healthy functioning of the brain and your physical and mental health. Sleep also promotes growth, especially in children and teens.
Sleep keeps your brain healthy: During sleep, your brain is getting ready for the next day. It forms new neural connections which help you learn and retain information.
Results of numerous studies have shown that quality sleep is necessary for learning. Test subjects that slept better performed better in new tasks that they had just learned. Good sleep will improve your ability to learn new skills and solve problems. It also helps you pay attention, be more creative and make better decisions.
Meanwhile, sleep deficiency changes the activity in certain parts of the brain. It may become more difficult for you to make decisions, solve problems, control your emotions and adapt quickly to change if you skip on sleep.
It gets even worse.
Sleep deficiency has been linked to riskier behaviors, depression and even suicide. Kids who don’t get enough sleep tend to have problems getting along with others, feel stressed, are easily angered, suffer mood swings and lack motivation. As a result, they are more likely to get poor grades and have more developmental challenges.
Sleep keeps your body healthy: When you sleep, your body heals and repairs itself; heart and blood vessels, muscles tissues, and organs. Continually going without enough sleep has been shown to be a risk factor in the development of high blood pressure, heart disease, kidney disease, obesity, diabetes, cancer, and stroke.
Good sleep also aids healthy growth and development. It helps release the growth hormone that makes children grow. Puberty and fertility also benefit from sleep.
Proper sleep boosts your immune system which defends your body against infection. Which is why you easily come down with the common cold whenever you skip sleeping several days in a row.
Daytime Performance and Safety: A good night sleep will have you at your best the next day..
The model hard worker is proud of his ability to work very late and still resume early at the office – chugging coffee by the pot load.
But is he productive?
Studies have shown that sleep deprivation impairs cognitive performance. Cognitive performance refers to the brain functions which enables you to perform a set of actions aimed at achieving some specific goals. These actions, also known as executive functions are the skill sets which makes it possible for you to handle complex tasks that need focus, decision making, problem-solving and working memory.
Therefore, you struggle for hours with a simple report the morning after a night out with the boys.
You become less productive, take longer to finish simple tasks, and tend to make more mistakes when you go without sleep.
Ironically, people that were sleep-deprived and performed poorly in scientific studies were prone to believe they performed exceptionally well.
Businesses have lost millions of dollars in costly mistakes and reduced productivity. And sometimes, fatal accidents.
How Many Hours Sleep Should I Get?
Obviously, the importance of good sleep cannot be overstated. But how much sleep is enough sleep?
While it varies from person to person, Your sleep requirement also depends on factors like age, lifestyle, and health.
The question of how much sleep a person needs has always generated some controversy. Experts, however, have agreed on some “rule of thumb” guidelines to assist you to know the optimal amount of premium snooze you will require.
|Age||Hours Needed||May be Appropriate|
|Source: National Sleep Foundation|
|Newborn to 3 months old||14 – 17 Hrs||11 – 19 Hrs|
|4 to 11 months old||12 – 15 Hrs||10 – 18 Hrs|
|1 to 2 years old||11 – 14 Hrs||9 – 16 Hrs|
|3 to 5 years old||10 – 13 Hrs||8 – 14 Hrs|
|6 to 13 years old||9 – 11 Hrs||7 – 12 Hrs|
|14 to 17 years old||8 – 10 Hrs||7 – 11 Hrs|
|Young adults (18 to 25 years old)||7 - 9 Hrs||6 - 11 Hrs|
|Adults (26 to 64 years old)||7 - 9 Hrs||6 - 10 Hrs|
|Older adults (65+)||7 – 8 hrs||5 – 9 hrs|
How Do You Ensure You Get The Hours Of Sleep Appropriate For You?
In this fast-paced world, a whole lot of people find it a tad difficult to sleep. While it may seem a daunting challenge if you are in that position, there are several tips you can start implementing now which will help you sleep faster and better.
Stick To A Schedule
Retiring to bed at the exact same time each day helps to set your body’s internal clocks to shut you down at the same time. Choose a time when you began to feel drowsy to set up your sleep cycle.
This means you will have to give up your weekend sleep-ins. But in the long run, when the quality of your sleep begins to improve; you’ll know the sacrifice was totally worth it.
Control What And When You Eat
You eating habits have a huge impact on your sleep quality.
Going to bed on an empty stomach is bound to cause you some discomfort and keep you awake till the wee hours of the morning. So it is with overeating.
Ensure you eat smaller portions for dinner and eat them early enough. Heavy and rich meals especially those containing fat are quite hard to digest. And this has a way of keeping you up all night
Keep your liquid intake low just before bedtime to limit the frequency of visits to the toilet.
Beverages like caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol are best avoided after 6 pm. They can mess with your sleep due to their effects on the central nervous systems.
Practice Sleeping Rites
Establish a pattern of actions at the same time daily to signal your body that it’s sleeping time. You could read a book, listen to soft music, or take a warm bath. This will help you fall asleep easier and enhance the quality of sleep. However, avoid any activity that involves looking at bright screens like Television, cell phones, etc just before bedtime as the light disrupts your body’s sleep rhythm.
Working out earlier in the day will help you sleep better at night. You could walk around the neighborhood, jog lightly or even do some simple stretches. These should be done at least an hour before bed.
Exercise is thought to promote sleep by the post-exercise drop in body temperature after the temperature increase induced by exercise. Another way exercise helps is by decreasing arousal, depressive symptoms, and anxiety.
Incorporating some of these simple lifestyle tweaks into your daily routine might be just what you need to catch adequate sleep.
However, there are some cases where these might not be enough. We have therefore outlined some products that can provide some relief for stubborn insomnia.
The Top 10 Products/Sleep Aids
Your sleep is not something to treat with levity. Therefore we’ve taken the pains to research and round up the best products that are guaranteed to make you sleep better every night:
#1 White Noise
It works by covering up noise distractions which may keep you awake. White Noise consists of a variety of sounds over a wide range of frequencies which can be generated through an app on your smartphone or a dedicated white noise device.
- White Noise App: The “White Noise Deep Sleep Sounds” app can be downloaded free for iOS and Android. It features over 25 soothing sounds from the mechanical whir of an air conditioner to the steady pattern of rainfall. You can also upgrade and buy more sounds. These sound masks distractions as well as soothe. It’s an inexpensive way to fall and stay asleep every night.
- White Noise Machine: These devices are built specifically to generate white noise. White noise machines come with a variety of features at different price They generate noise mechanically or electronically. You can choose from a large collection of simulated relaxing natural sounds like waves crashing on a beach or singing crickets to lull you into a deep, restful sleep.
#2 CBD Oil
One of the numerous health benefits of CBD oil is the ability to reduce anxiety, which reduces sleep difficulties and improves sleep quality. Research has shown that CBD helps increase the length of time you stay asleep and can improve insomnia. It also reduces insomnia in people with chronic pain as it is a highly effective pain relieving.
CBD also functions to regulate the sleep-wake cycle for better sleep quality and duration. Best of all it's completely legal in all states!
#3 HGH – Human Growth Hormone
As we grow older, the quality of sleep tends to decrease. This has been linked to a reduction in the Human Growth Hormone (HGH) levels which is instrumental in sleep regulation.
The use of HGH supplements has been scientifically proven to enhance sleep. The hormone acts as an anti-depressant and raises the levels of B-endorphin – a neurotransmitter that helps relax the body and reduce pain. HGH supplements were also found to lower dopamine levels which are linked to agitation and stress.
#4 Eye/Sleep Masks
Sleep masks can be helpful in sending you to slumber. This it does by blocking out the disruptive light. This rather simple sleep aid is made with quality silk material which is gentle on the skin and will have you nodding off in no time.
Yoga and meditation can help improve sleep by helping you to relax and clearing your mind of worry and anxiety that keep you from sleeping at night. Yoga and meditation are useful in reducing stress which helps alleviate insomnia.
While practicing yoga or meditation, brainwave patterns slow down, muscle tension dissipates, and heart rate decreases and blood pressure drops.
This relaxation response helps relieve depression and anxiety (which contribute to insomnia), as well as insomnia itself.
Before you go to bed, try out some easy, relaxing poses and also incorporate mindfulness meditation. Focus on your breathing instead of the worries of the day, and you’ll find yourself drifting off into a deep sleep shortly.
#6 Melatonin And Valerian
Valerian Root is a strong herbal sedative similar in action to Valium. It has been used for centuries to calm anxiety and naturally induce sleep. Valerian can quiet the most chaotic mind and help those who suffer insomnia sleep better.
Melatonin is a neurotransmitter-like compound made in the pineal gland which regulates the body’s internal clock. It is also responsible for maintaining a vast number of body functions. Melatonin supplement is effective in promoting restful sleep.
Melatonin and Valerian are usually combined in natural sleep aid formulations.
#7 Block Out Curtains
Lights from outside sources can disrupt your sleep or make you wake up earlier than normal. Block out curtains are fantastic at blocking out the lights and turns your room into a cool, dark, sleep cave. As well as keeping out light, blackout curtains can also muffle noise.
#8 Bedding, Pillows, Body Pillow
Comfort is of great importance in getting quality shut-eye. Sheets made of premium cotton is breathable and soft to the skin. Your pillow should be firm and supportive also. Change your pillow every few years as dust mites might have permanently made it home. All bedding material should be hypoallergenic to stop allergens from disrupting your sleep.
#9 The Perfect Mattress
Choosing the right mattress could be the best investment for quality restful sleep. A good mattress should provide all-around support without being too hard nor too soft. The nature of the composite materials also contributes to good sleep. Made with breathable materials, quality mattresses promote air circulation and make for a cool sleep surface. The materials should also be hypoallergenic.
Usually made out of wax and foam, earplugs are little devices that fit snugly inside your ear and blocks all noises so you can sleep without interruption. This is especially useful if your sleeping environment has lots of ambient noise or if your partner snores.
There you have it. It’s time to reclaim all that lost sleep – and live your best life!
The Ultimate Guide to Getting a Good Night's Sleep