We've all heard it before right? 8hrs of sleep each night for mental and physical health... blah, blah, blah...
WELL IT'S TRUE!
And we need to put more attention into our sleep habits for this reason.
More sleep research comes out on a regular basis, as science now understands the restorative properties that sleep offers us and better understands the "physiological happenings" during our sleep. That is, if we get a good amount of quality sleep.
I had a client mention her inability to fall asleep the other night, and it brought some reminders up that I'll share here....
Quantity of sleep
Here's where our modern world continues to work AGAINST our own physiology. Since the invention of the light bulb, humans have stayed up later rather than winding down as it gets dark. Add technology and entertainment on top of that and you have people staying up later, on average than ever before. In Dr Greg Well's awesome book, "The Ripple Effect" he shares a statistic from the National Sleep Foundation that mentions that people sleep 20% less than those a century ago... AND ... in Canada, 1/7 people (or 3.5 million) suffer from insomnia.
Adults should shoot for 7-9hrs of sleep as a general rule.
I'm not saying don't binge your favourite Netflix show necessarily... But plan it so it doesn't impact your sleep.
Consider this quote from Jason Fried (founder of Basecamp) ~
"Pulling all-nighters isn't a badge of honor.
It's the enemy of intelligence, patience and creativity"
... in addition to the negative impact on our overall health!
Quality of sleep
As important as the amount of sleep is, the quality of our sleep is equally as important. Along with quantity, the quality allows the body to roll through the physiological processes necessary for recovery, repair and rest. Here's a few things to keep in mind to help with your quality of sleep...
- Shoot for going to bed at the same time most nights
- Create a "sleep ritual" as Dr Greg Wells suggests. Do a similar routine before bed each night (or most) that signals to your body and mind that "it's time to wind down". It can be as simple as a nice cup of herbal tea and a book, or a warm bath.
-Shut down the screens at least an hour before sleep.
-Keep devices out of the bedroom. If the bedroom is kept solely for sleep (and yes, sex too!) and nothing else, it will help create a trigger for the mind that says "sleep time".
-Within an hour of bed time, begin to slow the body down by reading, meditating, journaling, taking a bath or shower, using some calming essential oils in a diffuser etc...
-Put on some calming music, nature sounds or whitenoise
Don't stress yourself out
Something I stress to my clients often now when this discussion arises is; DO NOT lie in bed stressing yourself out that you can't get to sleep!
Sleep is rarely a problem for me, except during times of high stress. Then I'm in trouble. I've learned that lying in bed, tossing and turning for an hour and stressing about the fact that I can't sleep, really doesn't help me sleep! Plus it makes me even grumpier in the morning. Ideally, accept that you can't get to sleep right now, and try to create some healthy practices (like those mentioned above) that will help you fall asleep. Sometimes all it takes is getting up for a few minutes, grabbing a glass of water, going into the living room for a few minutes of breathing exercises or a little pace around the house. It doesn't have to be anything special.
Your sleep habits should be on the same priority level as your nutrition and fitness. Really, it should be the primary thing to focus on since LACK of sleep can negatively impact your ability in both your fitness AND nutrition practices.
Maybe sleep on it for a bit? ...