Sleep. It’s essential to our wellbeing, but when it comes to fitting it into our busy schedules, it often ends up on the bottom of our priority list. With so many things to do, people to see, and places to go, it’s no wonder that the average person doesn’t get the recommended 7 hours a-day.
Yet, even if you are going to bed early that doesn’t mean you’re going to get a great night’s rest either. In fact, approximately 75 million Americans, claim that they have problems sleeping. In order to assess whether you’re getting good shut eye, perhaps it’s best to go back to the basics and find out what a good snooze really entails.
Yup, as funny as it sounds, it’s actually a good question. What is sleep? Everyone does it, but do we actually know why we do it. Aside from being an activity that instinctively kicks in when we are tired, sleep is actually one of the most mysterious topics among the scientific community – even after decades of research. Why? Simply because researchers don’t know what purpose it serves.
Most speculate that it is a way for our bodies to conserve energy, grow and heal. Yet, when you consider that it actually only decreases our metabolism by only 5 – 10 %, the facts reveal that sleep is actually, quite energetically inefficient.
Factor in the notion that all animals sleep, even fish, and you’ve made the activity even more complex. For example, scientists have found that dolphins sleep with half of their brain conscious, so that they are aware of their surroundings in case of an emergency. They’ve also found that some ducks sleep in a line, and instinctively the two birds at the front and back of the line will remain semi-conscious to guard against predators. If there is a logical reason for sleep, it certainly isn’t because it is resourceful. Nor is it a great defense mechanism. Essentially, in the evolutionary sense, it’s not beneficial for us in anyway.
Statistics aside, it’s safe to say that everyone needs a solid night’s rest and when we don’t get it, most likely we feel the awful affects the next day. With symptoms ranging from headaches, to memory loss and attention deficit, you can’t deny that you’ll miss sleep when you don’t get enough of it.
In honor of the importance of sleep, we’ve come up with a list of tips that might help see more of Mr. Sandman (pun intended) in the coming future.
Turn off the lights
Though you may not feel like it, those little blinking lights on your cell phone, alarm clock or other tech gadgets may be disrupting your sleep. Recent studies have showed that the shortwaves from blue light can cause sleep interruption, waking you up at least a few times a night. Solution? Turn your phone face down, you alarm clock facing away from the bed, and try to put any TV equipment in a cupboard.
It’s called a cat-nap for a reason. Taking naps for more than 20 minutes can sabotage your nightly sleep. Most experts don’t recommend taking them if you feel sleepy during the mid-day. Instead, they suggest some mild activity to get your heart rate going. However, if you must nap then set your alarm. Drinking a cold glass of water after you wake up has also been known to help your body get back into fighting action.
Tired all the time? It could be because you don’t have a consistent sleep schedule. Sleep specialists advise people to sleep and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends. Your body is more likely to get a better sleep when it has a consistent schedule that it’s accustomed to. Having a sleep schedule also helps you avoid those dreaded naps too. If you want to ensure that you wake up properly, try opening the blinds as soon as your alarm rings because the natural light will trigger your brain into daytime mode.
Cut the coffee & tea
Monitor your caffeine intake. Most experts recommend cutting out caffeine before noon. Otherwise you may feel the effects of the sleep inhibiting chemical all the way into the night. Don’t forget, green tea and black tea also have caffeine, so they also need to be nixed. A good substitute? Drink a cold glass of water and take a brisk walk around the block to fight off the post-lunch crash. Anything to get your heart pumping is likely to wake you up. Plus, it’s good for your long-term health too!
Exercising is great for helping you get a great night’s rest. However, you must ensure that you don’t do it right before bed. The increased heart rate and endorphins take a while to calm down, and can potentially keep you awake for hours. Instead, exercise at least 3-4 hours before you sleep.
Eat light; sleep heavy
Try to avoid eating heavy meals right before bed. Experts say that a big meal puts stress on your digestive system which likely can keep you awake throughout the night – especially if you have indigestion. If you must munch at night, a light snack of complex carbs or light dairy should suffice. Try some crackers with cheese or even some cereal. Just make sure you give yourself an hour to digest before hitting the hay.
Avoid alcohol. Though many people claim to get a good night’s sleep with a night cap beverage, you might be surprised to learn that once the alcohol has worn off, your body will have a more inconsistent sleep. Exchange the liquor for some warm milk, and you might just have a better rest.
Get a good bed
At Sandman, we’re proud to have some of the best mattresses on the market. In fact we frequently get requests from guests who want to buy them because they are so good. Perhaps it’s because they are top-of-the-line pillow top Serta mattress which can help you avoid back pain, body shifting and frequent fidgeting – all culprits that can keep you awake at night. Not convinced? Take a look at our gallery of amazing beds throughout our various locations. We’re sure you’ll be aching for a snooze after seeing them.