Sleep is the most essential component to wellness and healthy living. There are many people who think it’s perfectly fine to function on six or seven hours of sleep. Others seem to believe that an ‘all-night-er’ like we tried to pull in college won’t affect us.
Though we’re all busy people, staying up at all hours to meet those deadlines will impact your life.
In this article, we’ll look into how bad sleep habits affect your mental and physical health and the good sleep habits you should take up to be energetic every day.
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How terrible can lacking of sleep be?
If you don’t have healthy sleep habits, your professional life and even personal life will be at risk. Even the most subtle signs of exhaustion can set off major signals to others.
You might be going about your day believing everything is fine after skipping some hours of sleep, but later, you’re overwhelmed and aren’t totally with the program. You might wind up saying things like: “Oh gosh, I’m so off today, don’t mind me.”
Yes, people around you will notice if you’re a bit off or can’t keep up at work. If you feel the need to take a nap because you’re tired, that means you didn’t sleep well the night before. Taking naps is very healthy as they increase productivity and prevent you from hitting that ‘ugh, I need something sugary!’ slump.
This is an example of a bad sleep habit: you stayed up too late, so the next day, you try to catch up a bit to get through so you nap for ten minutes, then twenty minutes, and then an hour!
The National Sleep Foundations says that if you nap due to tiredness, you’ll end up entering a cycle of sleep that will mess with your sleep/wake schedule. Scientists call this your circadian rhythm, which is a 24-hour internal clock and cycles between sleeplessness and alertness at regular intervals. The clock exists within the brain and determines how much or little energy you’ll have at various periods of your day.
If your alertness is always compromised, you’re setting yourself up for frequent disasters.
There are several subtle and detrimental consequences you might face if you haven’t been getting enough shut-eye time. Studies now say it’s critical to get eight or nine hours of sleep. Anything less than that and you’ll suffer work-performance failures or other mishaps. You don’t want to take sleep disturbances and issues lightly.
Often times, we may think we’re getting enough sleep and don’t know why we’re fatigued and drained. It’s easy to blame it on diet or not enough exercise or work is taking its toll on you. And yes, those things do factor into the mystery of your lacking energy.
These days, in the digital age, it’s even more difficult to establish a healthy sleep routine when we’re constantly stimulated by external sources–the news, social media, and oh wait, what is happening in this crazy world?
We live in a time when cell-phone reliance is undeniable and also affecting our mental, emotional and physical well-being. I’ve heard people complain about their email demanding their attention at all hours of the night.
We’re taking in and internalizing more than we realize and we need to give it all a rest. This is why a nine-hour night of sleep is imperative.
4 Bad sleep habits to avoid
Our brains need sleep to process and unwind. If you’re at a loss about how to structure a healthy sleep life, these are some habits to avoid.
1. Putting your phone next to your head while sleeping.
Do you tuck your phone under your pillow when you sleep? Do you rely on your phone and use it as an alarm to wake you up in the morning?
It’s not a good idea to use your cell-phone to start your day. You’ll check your email or other social networks the second your alarm buzzes and become prone to a bad mood.
A clear head will make falling asleep fast and easy with no electronics nearby. And, you’ll wake up feeling restored.
2. Technology devices in the bedroom.
Technology devices have lights on them, very bright lights. A lit up room will cause sleep disturbances or make you want to do work or other things.
Pitch blackness will allow the brain to process melatonin, a chemical neurotransmitter that makes you tired and ready for sleep. The blue light on your phone’s screen, for example, is enough to confuse the brain into thinking it’s daylight.
Electronics such as electrical toothbrushes, televisions, computers, a diffuser and others should be in a position where they can’t be seen.
3. A messy environment.
Clutter, piles of laundry, piles of papers, and anything you can pile up as high as a mountain should be kept to a minimum.
A messy environment increases bad tension on the home-front and leaves you with this feeling of ‘there is so much to do.’ Downsizing on your possessions benefits stress levels, promotes calmness and provides a sense of peace.
As we get older, it’s easy to hoard everything into a space. Our closets, garages, or basements become a dumpster site. But living in this way, over time, will derail your mental and physical health. You might not recognize how overwhelmed you’re feeling about having so much stuff.
Your heart will feel the stress and burden, too, over time. I’m not saying you need to become a minimalist, not at all.
Just take some time to see where you can lighten the load in your home.
4. Doing work close to bed time.
If you’re your own boss or you work a job where anybody can call you any hour of the day and demand something, it’s OK to say no.
It’s tough if you work in a field that requires being on-call. You have the right to draw healthy boundaries and schedule time for yourself to relax in the few hours before bed.
An evening routine after dinner may be the answer to putting an end to chaos. If you don’t give yourself these hours of relaxation, you’ll feel off balance.
4 Good sleep habits to include
After knowing all the bad sleeping habits you should ditch, here’re good sleep habits to include:
1. Invest in a diffuser.
A diffuser has an incredible amount of sleep benefits. Essential oils, for years, have been used to cure insomnia, sleep disturbances, and to rewire the brain while easing anxiety in the mind.
Essential oils such as lavender or valerian essential oils are the best sleep aids. Lavender calms the nervous system by alleviating bothersome anxiety-driven thoughts, lowers blood pressure and heart rate. These oils, like chamomile essential oil, naturally starts the body and mind’s process in preparation for sleep.
Consult your doctor first even before using essential oils and make sure they are right for you.
2. Lay out your clothes and workout clothes the night before.
A system is the best way to overcome stress and anxiety, which interfere with sleep.
Mornings should be reserved for the opportunity to squeeze in a healthy breakfast, not rush to pick an outfit and scramble. If this has been you lately, try establishing a routine to make going to bed and waking up less turbulent.
A great day really does start the night before. These are mindful practices that can alter the course of your day and life in the long-term.
3. Use a different type of alarm.
Instead of waking up to a buzzing, ringing, obnoxious alarm in the morning, try implementing affirmations or nature sounds. There are alarm clocks you can set so you can rise to a calming voice telling you positive things.
Apps on your phone can do this. A shocking alarm can trigger anger and make waking up dreadful, especially if the sound makes you shout curse words the moment you open your eyes.
Mornings should be for easing into your work day, not doing a jack-rabbit start.
4. Do a meditative activity the our before bed.
An hour before bed, do something that eliminates thoughts from your mind. Doing the dishes and cleaning the kitchen is a good way to clear your head and stress from a day.
Try doing an evening walk outside and listen to your breathing, footsteps, and nature around you. Doing something relaxing, even for a short time, will calm the mind.
Summing it up
You can use these lifestyle practices as strategies to develop a healthier sleep life. You will notice a difference. Over time, you’ll feel more energized and will start your day on the right foot.
The early morning and early dusk are critical for your brain to regulate a healthy sleep/wake cycle so you can succeed in your daily life.
Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com