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How to Get Good Sleep

by Marianne Navada

“Sleep is one of the most important things we can all do tonight to improve our health, our mood, our wellbeing and our longevity.”

Dr. Rebecca Robbins | Source: BBC

Quality and Quantity—-good sleep means getting at least 7 hours of quality sleep. 40% of Americans get fewer than the recommended 7-8 hours sleep daily and 35% report poor quality of sleep.

Although surveys show that we seem to understand the importance of a good night’s rest, failing to prioritize it is one of the main causes of sleep deprivation. Research confirms that lack of sleep leads to serious health problems and compromises brain function.

Even if we want to prioritize sleep, it’s hard for some to fall asleep, and here is where mindfulness helps.

One of the first steps to developing good sleeping habits is to assess the underlying cause of sleeplessness. According to Harvard Health, nearly 50% of insomnia cases are caused by emotional and psychological issues, such as stressful events, anxiety, or mild depression”. It can also be certain habits that you have throughout the day or before bed that can compromise a good night’s rest.

“Sleeping less than seven hours per day is associated with an increased risk of developing chronic conditions such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and frequent mental distress.”

Source | Center for Disease Control and Prevention

Developing good sleeping habits can be divided into 2 camps: Active Hours and Winding Down.

Active Hours

Active hours are habits you can form throughout the day to help you get good sleep:

  • Food and Drink Consumption: You can’t be too full or hungry before going to bed. Avoid nicotine, caffeine and alcohol a few hours before you plan to sleep. According to the Mayo Clinic and Dr. Rebecca Robbins, although alcohol may help you fall asleep, it can be disruptive and prevent you from getting quality sleep.
  • Exercise: Studies confirm that exercise helps improve sleep. Keep in mind that benefits might not be immediate and it may take time to notice the effects. Exercise has been shown to improve mood, reduce stress, and strengthen circadian rhythm.
  • Limit naps: Short naps can improve alertness and performance throughout the day, but it can compromise sleep. Experts recommend 20-30 minute nap time.
  • Stick to a schedule: Consistency “reinforces your body’s sleep-wake cycle”

Winding Down

  • Restful environment: Take the time to assess what a restful environment means to you. This can mean using an eye mask, room darkening shades, ear plugs, turning on relaxing music.
  • Exposure to light: Avoid screen time either on the phone or TV. Although watching TV might seem relaxing, the type of content watched can lead to more anxiety and worry.
  • Set aside worries: This, of course, is easier said than done, and the challenge is to find a way and develop a routine to relieve worries you may have for the next day or stop reliving what happened before. This can be writing down what is on your mind with pen and paper, breathing exercises to clear the head, listening to music, chanting a mantra…
  • Let go: If you can’t seep for more than 20 minutes, try getting out of bed. The last thing you want to do is associate your bed with restlessness and frustration. Do something relaxing to clear the head and this doesn’t mean you need to stay in bed.

Disclaimer: The content in this site is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical or health advice, diagnosis or treatment. Read the Lifdb terms for more information.

Make getting enough sleep a part of your happiness routine.

Did you know that in a Yale Course on the Science of Well-being, getting enough sleep is a tool to improve quality of life?

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