Good Sleep, Good Health?

How’s your sleep? Overall, mine has really improved over the last few months. Although, as I am writing this blog, I am coming off a night of only five and a half hours of sleep. 

Sleep, so I’ve read – and most of us know intuitively – is an important part of our physical and mental wellbeing. Good sleep can improve our brain functioning and our mood. 

Asleep at last!

Two major components: quantity and quality.

Let’s look at quantity. According to the CDC, most adults benefit from at least 7 hours of sleep a night. Of course, every body is different. Statistics also show that about ⅓ of adults don’t get that desired seven hours on a regular basis.

Then there’s quality of sleep. The purpose of sleep is to rest and restore your mind and body. Some struggle with the length of time it takes to fall asleep. Others experience periods of wakefulness thanks to medications, needing to use the restroom, or simply an overactive mind.  

So what’s a person to do to attain the golden standard of 7+ nightly? I really have tried many of the suggestions that I am going to pass along. Some have worked for me, and others, not so much.

Stick to a fairly narrow band of time for going to bed and waking up – even on the weekends.

Get moving during the daytime. Exercise some every day, this will help you be more ready for bedtime (side note, just don’t exercise right before bed!).

Avoid caffeine and nicotine for at least 8 hours prior to sleeping as they can each stay in your system that long.

Avoid screen time at least 30 minutes prior to bedtime. The blue light emitted by the screens inhibits the production of melatonin that helps control your sleep cycle.

Speaking of melatonin, as we age, we naturally produce less melatonin. For some, taking melatonin supplements prior to bed may help promote sleep.

Create your personal best sleeping environment. Dark room? Sleep mask for your eyes? Ear plugs? White noise? Music? Lavender essential oil from a diffuser? Experiment and discover whatever combination of practices work for you to make it your ideal environment.

Don’t lay there worrying about how little sleep you’re getting. That definitely won’t help. If it won’t disturb others in your household, get up and do something relaxing: a little yoga, some deep breathing, read a book, etc.

Our outdoor cats sure know how to sleep!

Since sleep is such an important part of your health, don’t forget to chat with your medical provider regarding any ongoing concerns you have regarding your sleep.

Try managing your stress during your waking hours by eating healthy, exercising, and by recognizing and reducing as many sources of stress as possible. Being mindful of my stress and stressors when I’m awake helps me get to sleep and wake feeling rested, restored, and ready to face the new day!

Our 19 year old cat, Charlie, sleeps with his eyes open!


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