Many of us look forward to a good night’s sleep, but it can sometimes be elusive. Now more than ever, it’s easy for finances, work, and other stressors to hijack our brains at bedtime. Changes in daily routine like working from home or managing child care can affect the amount or quality of sleep, too.
Sleeping may not seem like a top priority right now, but it should be. Lack of it can adversely affect your immune system. Research suggests that poor sleep increases your chances of catching a cold and other infections. If you find yourself with some extra time these days, focusing on self-care strategies to improve sleep can be one of the best things to do for your health.
The Power of Sleep
Sleep is a deeply restorative process. Your body requires between seven to eight hours of sleep each night, during which it works to repair organs, muscles, and other cells. Important proteins called cytokines that combat inflammation, disease, and infection are also released at that time.
When you skimp on sleep, there’s less time for repair and for cytokines to circulate and do their job. You’ll also lose out on other key health benefits like healthier skin, lower cortisol levels, and improved mood and memory.
How to Sleep Better at Night
Staying well-rested can help keep your body’s natural defenses at optimum efficiency. Take a look at these tips for developing healthy sleep habits.
Get the recommended seven to eight hours of rest each night. If your sleep is interrupted by work or other reasons, you can catch up with a 30-minute nap.
Go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day. It may be difficult at first but maintaining a regular sleep schedule will help you sleep better at night.
Avoid alcohol, soda, caffeine, and nicotine at bedtime. These substances have stimulating effects that can prevent sleep or lead to disrupted sleep later.
Establish a pre-sleep routine to let your body and mind unwind. Turn on relaxing music, take a warm bath, or try stretching. Calming activities like these can promote relaxation and prime your body for rest.
Finally, prep your room for sleep by freeing the space from distractions and light. Disconnect from any digital distractions such as a television, cell phone, laptop, or tablet device. Keeping your room free from bright light at bedtime can help keep your circadian rhythm in balance.
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