Two men asleep in the grass

Many of us have too much going on in our lives with too little time to do it. Often sleep can be the first thing to be sacrificed when we don’t have enough time, but sleep is not just a luxury that we afford when it works, it is something necessary for our bodies to function. Your body uses sleep as a method to recharge and without it, we can begin to experience health issues and decreases in our body’s ability to perform daily tasks. Consider how much sleep your body needs and why it is important so that you can embrace a more restful night’s sleep.

How Much Sleep Do You Need and Why?

The amount of sleep is a critical component of staying healthy, and the optimal amount of sleep that we need is 7 to 9 hours per night for the average adult. This means that those hours are ones we should be asleep and not just sitting in our beds. During this timeframe, our bodies go through various stages, allowing our bodies to recharge and essentially heal from the day’s stress and tasks. While 7 to 9 hours is the optimal amount of sleep, many of us get far less than this, as it often feels like there is not enough time in the day. Increasing the amount of time we are asleep may require a change in priorities and schedules, but can yield positive results.

What Can Sleep Deprivation Do?

Sleep deprivation is described as a state where an individual is not achieving enough hours or optimal sleep. This could mean that you are not achieving enough sleep over a short time or that you have diminished sleep quality over a longer timeframe, but all of these can influence your health. It has been proven that a severely sleep-deprived person will actually function similarly to a person who is intoxicated, and therefore, would struggle with thinking clearly, operating a vehicle and processing information. These are important factors, as our ability to complete daily tasks can be severely diminished, if not impossible. Over time, sleep deprivation can lead to significant medical conditions, including high blood pressure, a decreased immune system and increased risk of heart disease.

What If You Have Trouble Falling Asleep?

Many of us have a difficult time falling asleep, and can struggle to initiate the process of sleep. Whether it is due to stress, not being able to quiet your mind or even focusing on needing to fall asleep, all of these factors can impede our ability to get the process of sleep started. However, even for folks who struggle with sleep, there are many strategies out there to assist so that they can enjoy a restful evening. Some useful strategies include shutting off screens and electronic devices at least one hour before bedtime, exercising during the day but not within three hours of bedtime, and avoiding rich foods that are high in fat, sugar, and carbs before bed. All of these strategies can aid one’s ability to fall asleep easier. However, improved sleep hygiene can be helpful to anyone regardless of their ability to fall asleep quickly.

What Is Sleep Hygiene?

Sleep hygiene, also known as a designated routine that occurs before going to bed, can be a useful tool to aid in a restful night’s sleep. By designating a routine, you signal to your body that these tasks mean it is time for bedtime. Your set schedule can consist of music, powering down electronic devices, taking a shower or bath, or any number of tasks that signal to your brain that it is time for sleep. Regardless of what tasks you choose, it is important to stick to a schedule as much as you can if you are looking to improve your sleep.

Sleep can often feel like a luxury that many of us cannot afford, however, it is an essential component of our wellbeing that too often goes overlooked. Consider what strategies you can integrate into your daily life to improve your restful and restorative behaviors to improve your health.

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About The Author

Mikkie Mills's picture

Mikkie Mills is a freelance writer who's passionate about health, fitness, organic cooking and eating, and yoga. When not writing she loves traveling, hiking, and cooking. Find more from Mikkie on Google+.

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