Do you want the secret to health and wellness?
Sure you do, everyone does. Everyone is looking for the miracle supplement, workout or tip that can change their lives seemingly overnight. Well such a thing does exist, is available to you anytime, and will cost you nothing.
It’s sleep — specifically deep sleep.
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The Epidemic of Chronic Sleep Deprivation
If you’re like the majority of the population, you are probably depriving yourself of it on a nightly basis.
Sleep has been called the “force multiplier” in that it has the ability to enhance, or worsen, whatever state that you’re in.
If you are eating well, controlling stress, and exercising often, then getting good sleep on top of all that will help enhance the benefits of all those healthy things that you’re doing.
On the other hand, if you are eating poorly, not exercising, are constantly stressed, and overdoing it with medications or other substances, a lack of sleep is going to compound and multiply everything.
It’s like being kicked while you’re down
And when you are chronically sleep deprived, it really does a number on you. A lack of sleep can keep your body in a constant state of stress and over time this can get pretty ugly. Elevated stress hormones can be involved in creating a bunch of pretty nasty conditions including the following:
- Headaches and dizziness
- Weight gain
- Digestive disorders
- Immune system dysfunction
How to Get the Best Deep Sleep
Deep sleep is so important for not only your body, but your mind. Here are 10 ways to get the best deep sleep possible:
1. Start Going to Bed Earlier
You’re going to bed too late each night. I get it though, there are too many distractions that can keep you up late.
First among all those is entertainment. The amount of programming through cable and streaming services could sink a battleship. It’s like there isn’t enough hours in the day to consume it all.
And let me tell you, there isn’t. When you combine this with the distraction of social media, you can find yourself still scrolling at 2 am.
You would be doing yourself a favor by putting off all those shows for another time and allow yourself to get to bed earlier. Trust me, those shows aren’t going anywhere and we’ve become content consumers, thinking it’s like an assignment to finish that next series on Netflix.
There is no assignment, those things are there for your enjoyment. So enjoy them on your on terms and don’t let them interfere with getting deep, consistent sleep.
2. Create a Wind Down Routine
This is key in getting deep sleep. Your body craves routine and responds favorably to it.
You want to create a wind down routine that you start at the same time each night and follow the order of. This wind down routine will allow your body to know that sleep is coming. This is going to allow you to fall asleep sooner and get that valuable deep sleep.
It doesn’t matter really what type of routine it is, but find out what works best for you and stick with it. It may be taking a shower and then reading or it may be some yoga and then listening to music. The key thing is that its important to create some structure for your body to help unwind with to eventually get that deep sleep.
3. Turn down the Light
Remember all that entertainment all around you? It may be seriously degrading your ability to get deep sleep.
We live in a 24/7 artificially lit world. As the sun sets, the opposite happens and your house springs into action. Lights are blaring, T.V’s are on, screens are being fully used. All this artificial light is disrupting your circadian rhythms and throwing off your ability to get deep sleep. The blue light emitted from electronics has the ability to prevent melatonin release from the brain which is crucial in your sleep cycles.
So turn off those electronics 1 to 2 hours beforehand and you’ll be surprised at the positive impact this can have.
4. If You Really Have to Use Those Electronics, Make Use of These Tools
There are going to be times when being on your laptop is required or you do have to use your phone. Fortunately, along with your modern technology, comes some ways to make them have a less harsh impact.
The first one is a tool for if you need to be on your lap top doing work. It’s called F.lux. This takes away that blue light from your lap top screen and gives it a more natural warm and orange glow. It can replicate the brightness all the way down to candle light and embers from a fire. Reducing the blue light is going to help you avoid the sleep disruption it causes.
I’m actually using it right now as I write this.
If you use an iPhone, you can switch on the night shift mode which also takes away from some of that harsh blue light. If you have to be up watching T.V, at least switch it into “movie” mode on your picture settings. Most T.V’s have “standard”, “dynamic”, and “movie” mode. Movie mode will give it a bit of warmer glow and cause less of that blue light disruption.
5. Keep Your Room Dark
This goes along with all this melatonin/blue light we’ve been talking about.
Just as blue light prevents your brain from secreting melatonin, darkness helps to produce it. When it gets dark, your body realizes the cycle of the day is ending and your sleep cycles should match up with that. Your sleep cycle involves this melatonin secretion so you want to help encourage it by keeping your room as dark as possible.
This can be tough in our modern world but your best friend in this situation are black out curtains. These are available most everywhere from Walmart to Amazon. They help to eliminate all that outside light to keep your environment as dark as possible. These are what hotels use and you may have noticed how dark those rooms can be compared to the amount of light that is usually prevalent outside.
6. Keep Your Room Cooler
Again, our modern environments create overly bright, overly warm living situations. This warmth is great but is not the most conducive to sleep.
Sure, warmth may make you drowsy but doesn’t promote that deep sleep you’re looking for. You want things to be a touch on the cool side to promote better sleep.
When you’re asleep, your body temperature actually drops and by creating a cool environment you can actually speed up the process of getting to sleep. Your body senses the coolness and can transition easier into sleep while also engaging in deeper sleep.
If you can control your room temperature, the sweet spot seems to be at around 5-10 degrees cooler than your average daytime temperature. At the very least, your sheets should feel cool to the touch, then you’ll know you’re in the right range.
You can check out a few more things you can do to improve your room in this article too:
7. Don’t Eat Too Much Before Bed
It’s hard to go to bed hungry and a little snack can be o.k, but you want to avoid heavy meals later in the night. This keeps your body up digesting and doesn’t allow you to naturally wind down and get that deep sleep.
Also, just the discomfort and bloating makes it tough to get settled. At the same time, your body can think it’s in the middle of the day as the focus appears to be on digestion and absorption as opposed to sleep. This can cause some more havoc with your body clock which hasn’t been allowed to naturally do it’s thing.
If you’re up all night eating and exposed to bright lights from screens, in your bodies mind, is like being outside in the middle of a bright sunny day. Sleep is the furthest thing from its mind in this situation and it doesn’t know the difference between it being noon or three in the morning.
Scenarios like this make the ability to fall asleep, and stay in deep sleep, extremely difficult. On the other hand though, here’s some things you do what to drink and eat to promote better sleep:
8. Check out What You’re Sleeping On
There’s a bit of a science to your bed and mattress and getting it just right is pretty crucial.
If you think about the majority of purchases in your life; house, car, schooling, etc your mattress needs to be right up there. Seems kind of ridiculous but it’s where you spend 1/3 of your life – or 1/2 of it if you have teenagers – so it should be considered a significant purchase.
The usual idea is going for the softest mattress possible. There are a lot of options for that now with memory foam mattresses and super soft mattress toppers. To get the best deep sleep possible, you’re going to want to go for more of a medium-firm one. The same way I like my steaks…
If you like the softer pillow top mattresses at least go for a firm mattress underneath for better support. A firmer support will give more support and cushioning to your spine and this is important for helping you sleep.
When things are too soft there is a lack of support for you spine and body and even slight movements can be disruptive to your sleep.
Here’re some guides for you to pick the right mattress and pillow:
- Your Essential Guide To Buying The Right Mattress
- Never Underestimate The Power Of Your Pillow, Learn How to Pick Them Well
9. Watch out for the Caffeine
No surprise here that caffeine can keep you up but you might not know how long it can cause this to happen.
Caffeine can kick in around 10 to 20 minutes on average, and the noticeable effects can last for 2 to 3 hours in your body. If you over consume caffeine, it can take more and more of it to feel its effects to the point you’re injecting espresso.
It would seem to make sense that you want to cut caffeine out 2 to 3 hours before bed but this probably won’t do the trick. Caffeine has what’s called a “half-life” meaning its existence, and effects in the blood stream, can last longer. This half life can last around 5-6 hours, so you might have to do some new math as to when it will be best to have your last coffee of the day.
10. Easy on the Alcohol
It seems like I’m taking all the fun away but caffeine and alcohol can really disrupt your sleeping patterns.
Alcohol may knock you out quick but it prevents you from getting that deep quality of sleep you are looking for. We’re looking at that body clock getting screwed up again with alcohol.
Alcohol turns on a brain pattern called “alpha activity”. This type of brain pattern doesn’t usually happen when you’re asleep but when you’re awake and alert. This now disrupts your circadian rhythms and in turn can block your REM sleep.
Add this all up and you may pass out after all those Jager bombs but your body is not going to get any benefit or deep sleep from it. All you’ll have to show for it is the inevitable hangover the next day.
In society today, many people seem to wear their lack of sleep like a badge of honor. There’s this sense of “sleep being for the weak” and the desire to burn the candle at both ends.
Not only is this not a sustainable way to live, you may be causing a lot of damage to yourself while you’re at it. The ability to get deep sleep on a continuous basis is critical for your body and mind to be at their best.
In this article, you’ve seen some things that you can start doing tonight to start getting better sleep. From making a more suitable environment, to watching out for the things that you consume, hopefully you have a better idea now of how your body responds to all these.
The best part is that most of these tips are easy and won’t cost you anything but are only going to enhance your health and wellness.
Featured photo credit: Rex Pickar via unsplash.com
|||^||Mayo Clinic: Chronic stress puts your health at risk|
|||^||Harvard Health: Blue light has a dark side|
|||^||News Medical: Caffeine Pharmacology|
|||^||Sleep Foundation: How Alcohol Affects the Quality—and Quantity—of Sleep|