Did you know that even a single night of poor sleep - meaning getting fewer than six hours - can seriously impair your memory? Not to mention, sleep deprivation can also:
- Dramatically weaken your immune system.
- Accelerate tumor growth, increase oxidative stress and lead to a decreased ability to fight cancer.
- Increase grehlin, the hunger hormone, and decrease leptin, the satiety hormone, leading to an increase in hunger and cravings for calorie-dense, high-carbohydrate foods and a decrease in your innate ability to know when you're full, wreaking havoc on your metabolism and weight.
- Impair your performance on physical and mental tasks, and decrease your problem-solving ability.
- Increase stress-related disorders, such as heart disease, stomach ulcers, constipation, and mood disorders, like depression.
- Prematurely age you.
Americans now get an average of two fewer hours of sleep than they did forty years ago. Most adults need between six and eight hours of sleep per night. Any fewer or much more can lead to a multitude of health issues. If you find yourself struggling in this area, here are my top ten tips for a better night's sleep now:
- Sleep in complete darkness or as close to it as possible. Use black-out curtains or an eye mask if necessary.
- Keep the temperature in your bedroom between 60 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Get to bed as early as possible, as your body begins its recharging period by 11 p.m.
- Keep your bed strictly for sleeping and sex. Try to not watch TV, do work, etc. in bed.
- Stick to a routine: Go to sleep and wake up at the same time, even on the weekends.
- Establish a bedtime routine 1-2 hours before you want to be asleep. This could include a bath, meditation, writing in a journal, and dimming the lights and burning candles. This does NOT include watching TV/movies, as they can be over-stimulating.
- Don't drink fluids 2 hours before bed. You might need to increase the amount of water you drink earlier in the day to ensure you don't get too thirsty before bed. Make sure to use the bathroom right before you go to sleep.
- Wear socks to bed or place a hot water bottle at your feet.
- Get exercise during the day but don't do anything too vigorous 3-4 hours before bed. Gentle yoga or stretching can before bed can be relaxing, however. Avoid eating 2-3 hours before bed, especially grains and other sugar-containing foods.