If you are like most Americans you aren’t getting enough rest. In my opinion, good preventive health has three components: a healthy diet, moderate exercise and sleep. We hear about diet and exercise all the time but we don’t hear so much about sleep. In fact, in our workaholic society not getting enough sleep is considered to be a badge of honor. Maybe we need to rethink that concept.
Over a third of Americans say they aren’t getting enough sleep (according to a 2010 study commissioned by the Philips Center for Health and Well-Being). Of those, half of them blame stress for their lack of shut eye.
Not getting enough rest can have dire consequences. Loss of productivity at work, increased risks of driving accidents, issues with mood (impatience, short temper) and increased stress are all direct effects of sleep deprivation.
But it goes deeper than that. Researchers are beginning to link chronic ailments like diabetes, heart disease and obesity to a lack of sleep. If you are dieting, you know it’s a lot harder to stay focused on your diet when you are tired and sleepy.
If you pay attention to what you eat and you make time to exercise, then it stands to reason that you ought to start valuing your rest as well.
Here are some tips for getting more rest
1. Make Your Bedroom a Sanctuary
There are two things you should be doing in the bedroom and they both begin with S (sleep and sex). Try not to bring your work into the bedroom. Also make your room as comfortable and relaxing as possible.
2. Take Time to Wind Down
I have battled insomnia all of my adult life, and I’ve found I have to make time to wind down. I make sure I’m off of the computer by 8:30 and I don’t answer my phone after 9:00 p.m. I’ve found that if I get involved in a major conversation I end up wound up after I’ve been trying to wind down! I also dim the lights tomake it more soothing.
3. Make Time for Sleep
Start with an extra 30 minutes either at night or in the morning. Recognize that sleep is a priority. A lot of driven people think that sleeping is a waste of valuable time. Change your thinking. Realize that getting enough sleep will help you be more effective and focused during your waking and working hours.
4. Drinking Does Not Help
A lot of people think a glass or two of wine before bed will help them relax. It is true … to an extent. The wine might relax you so that you get to sleep faster, but you won’t sleep as deeply and many times you may end up waking up in the middle of the night.
5. Develop a Routine
Make getting enough rest a habit and you can train your body to go to sleep earlier. After a few weeks of going to sleep and waking up at the same times (on weekends too when possible), your body becomes accustomed to it. Try this instead of sleeping pills which can be habit-forming.