Could sleep be a key to maintaining for vitality and youth? Well, your age may not decrease, but getting enough sleep could impact how you feel as you age.
The National Health Interview Survey states that nearly 30 percent of adults reported getting an average of six hours or less of sleep a day. Busy work and personal schedules combined with increased access to technology negatively impact the body’s ability to get the sleep it needs to recover and repair. Staying busy and having a full day can be a good thing, but it’s important to remember to take care of yourself, and the needs of your body, first and foremost. Quality sleep is a large factor in your overall health and quality of life.
How Much is Enough?
The National Center for Health Statistics reports that the amount of sleep needed changes as we get older, with seven to eight hours being the recommendation for average adults. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that getting enough sleep is important to public health, noting that getting inadequate sleep has been called a public health problem. Insufficient sleep has been suggested to be a potential contributing factor to developing ailments such as depression, diabetes, hypertension, and obesity. All of which decrease one’s quality of life.
But not to worry! If you haven’t been getting enough sleep, here’s a few tips to help you get those much needs zzzz’s.
1. Change Up Your Bedtime Routine
How do you end your day? Eating large meals and drinking caffeine or alcohol late in the day can affect your ability to fall asleep regularly. The National Sleep Foundation recommends practicing a relaxing bedtime ritual and sleeping on a comfortable mattress no older than 10 years, and using pillows that are free of allergens.
Disconnecting from technology may also help you unwind. Consider setting a time each night, at least an hour before you plan to go to bed, and refrain from using the Internet, resist the urge to do anything on an electronic device, and refrain from attempting to solve problems that cause stimulation.
2. Turn off the (Blue) Light
Instead of watching TV or using your tablet or smartphone prior to bed, consider doing something else that will not stimulate your brain with light patterns. Light from televisions and computers, called blue light, can hinder your sleep. Blue light affects your internal clock, as well as the hormone melatonin, which has been shown to aid in getting quality sleep, so it is important to minimize exposure to blue light before bed.
Instead, read a book or magazine that is in print, and use a soft reading light. Spending the end of your day in a relaxing environment will help you get the sleep you need.
3. Keep it Natural
There are many holistic alternatives to prescription sleep medications to consider when trying to achieve healthy sleep patterns. Supplements such as melatonin or valerian root are widely considered to be wonderful sleep aids.
Aromatherapy is another holistic method that may help you sleep better. Lavender is well known for its tranquil, relaxing benefits, also oils like vetiver and roman chamomile may work well too. All can be used in oil form in a diffuser.
4. Get Moving!
Exercise has been linked to improved sleep. According to a study published by ScienceDirect, those who increased their usual activity levels had a 65 percent increase in sleep quality.
It is suggested to exercise earlier in the day. Exercising vigorously late at night may prevent you from falling asleep at a normal hour. Try to finish your cardio workout at least four hours before you plan to sleep. That gives your body plenty of time to cool off and begin releasing melatonin.
5. Just Breathe
Yoga and meditation can help calm the mind, reduce tension, and lower stress levels. A good yoga pose for your bedtime ritual is Child’s Pose. In this pose you will fold your upper body over your legs with arms extended and forehead resting on the ground, while taking deep breaths through your nose.
Another helpful, holistic technique that may aid falling asleep is called alternate nostril breathing. To perform this, bring one hand to your nose and close off your right nostril with your thumb. While doing this, inhale through your left nostril slowly and steadily. Next, use your finger to close off your left nostril, then release your right nostril, while exhaling. Once you have completely exhaled, immediately inhale through your right nostril, close it with your thumb, exhale through your left, and repeat. Do this five to 10 times before bed, for about 30 seconds each time.
Implementing a combination of these natural solutions is a great way to improve your quality of sleep. You may just feel healthier, more energized, and possibly even younger.