Sleep is essential for good health. Here are 6 easy ways to get more of it…
We’ve been talking a lot about sleep this month, as with all the holiday stress and activities, sleep can sometimes be hard to come by this time of year. But just why is sleep so important? We all know that we should get enough sleep to stay healthy, but many of us don’t truly understand just why sleep is so important for our health. After all, when we’re sleeping, we aren’t aware of all the myriad things that are going on in our bodies and brains “behind the scenes,” so to speak.
Not only does sleep reset our brains and allow us to function with a clear head the next day, it also boosts our immune systems, assists with the removal of waste cells and toxins from the body, and helps improve our body’s healing response.
But this is just the tip of the iceberg. Some research has shown that getting proper sleep may also help to reduce our risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and more.
According to the American Association for Cancer Research, sleep deficiency may counteract the immune, hormonal, and metabolic benefits received when regular exercise is part of a healthy lifestyle or cancer treatment plan.
During the study, active women ages 65 and younger lost the benefits of their active lifestyle if they got less than seven hours of sleep every night. Their cancer risk was actually higher than those women who were exercising and getting enough sleep but still less than those who exercised little.
Getting enough sleep is essential to good health and longevity, but fortunately, there are some easy steps you can take to make sure that you’re getting plenty of it. Here are a few helpful suggestions from TheTruthAboutCancer.com:
#1: Sleep when your body tells you to.
… And as much as your body needs. This is crucial to activating the healing response. A good rule of thumb is that if you still feel tired in the morning 10-15 minutes after rising, you’re not getting enough sleep.
#2: Exercise every day for at least 30 minutes.
Low-impact exercise counts so take a walk, swim a few laps, or join a class to get those workouts in. There are even chair exercises if you’re struggling with balance and coordination. One of my personal favorites is rebounding (jumping on a mini-trampoline) to get my heart rate up and the lymphatic system moving. Getting plenty of exercise can significantly improve your quality of sleep.
#3: Avoid caffeine, alcohol, carbs, and sweets for 8 hours before bedtime.
Most of these are easy to avoid if you are practicing a ketogenic diet. If you are not eating a keto diet, be sure to avoid these before bed as they affect our ability to experience deep sleep. A 2013 Scientific Research study concluded that “energy drinks, other caffeinated beverages, and alcoholic beverages are risk factors of poor sleep quality.”
#4: Keep your room cool, quiet, and dark for sleep.
Your melatonin levels increase at night so keeping the room dark and cold encourage prolonged, natural melatonin production. A 2010 study in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism found that individuals exposed to room light “during the usual hours of sleep suppressed melatonin by greater than 50% in most (85%) trials.”
#5: Get on a regular sleep schedule.
Try to get on a schedule where you sleep and wake at the same time every day to get your body accustomed to your new routine.
#6: Meditate and pray before you go to sleep to calm your heart and mind.
If your normal sleep routine has been disrupted due to stress, pain, or other issues, it is important to spend time in prayer and meditation to calm your heart and mind, facilitating peaceful sleep, wholeness, and healing.