Why sleep is not a luxury
Most people don’t realize this, but sleep is just as important as eating, drinking and getting exercise. Not enough of any of these is bad for your health, and can have negative effects on your daily functioning.
Sleep deficiency has been linked to high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney disease, increased risk of heart disease, and even stroke . . . fun!
To better understand sleep, let’s look at our brainwaves and where sleep occurs.
There are 5 different brainwaves that all humans experience.
Higher-frequency brainwaves occur when we are awake and functioning (gamma, beta and alpha). Lower-frequency brainwaves (theta and delta) are where sleep occurs.
Tune in to your sleep frequencies
The theta frequency is said to be present in light sleep, where we are drifting off; and REM sleep, where we are dreaming. Theta is said to be where we experience vivid images and insights, and find inspiration and creativity.
The delta frequency is the slowest and is a deep, dreamless sleep that is linked to deep healing and restoration. Muscle tissue is repaired in this sleep frequency, and the body tissue restores itself. Our daily detox occurs. Energy is built up for the next day. And especially important for children and young adults – growth hormones are released.
But let’s face it – in our fast-paced lifestyles few of us get enough sleep, let alone deep sleep. And this has consequences:
Unfortunately, the list does go on.
But the good news is you can change your patterns to up your “sleep intake”.
Better sleep means better functioning, higher creativity and productivity, and a greater appreciation and experience of life.
Ten commandments of sleep
Getting the sleep you need is as simple as following 10 rules (or the 10 commandments of sleep, as we like to call it).
Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, weekends included.
Avoid any caffeine 6 hours before going to bed (and yes, this includes chocolate).
While a light snack just before bed is OK, stay away from heavy, spicy or sugary foods.
Avoid smoking and alcohol at least 5 hours before going to bed.
Keep your room well ventilated, and at a comfortable temperature.
Exercise regularly, but ideally not just before bedtime.
If you allow yourself a little siesta during the day, keep it to no more than 20 minutes. (30 minutes max.)
Eliminate distractions like noise and light. Your bedroom should be a calming and restful environment, reserved only for rest and sleep. Use earplugs or an eyemask if necessary.
Use comfortable bedding to add to that cozy off-to-dreamland vibe in your bedroom.
And finally, relax before going to bed. Read a book, or listen to some calming music. Enjoy a meditation, or take a warm bath. Do stay away from TVs or mobile phones – the light and noise can stimulate brainwaves and end up kicking that brain into active mode.