Many powerful processes go to work while you sleep so that your brain and body run smoothly when you wake. It’s one of the most underrated gateways to good health. Just as your car's systems need a tune-up every now and then for peak performance, so do your sleep habits.
A Fact with Wow Factor
Running on too little sleep leaves you more prone to the effects of stress, one of the most common causes of insomnia. [Source]
Stress Less Tip
Don’t give stress any extra advantages. Since sleep plays such an essential role in stress tolerance, make it work in your favor. Besides its preventative effects on stress, sleep also influences:
Take the R.E.S.T. challenge to assess the habits that affect your sleep quality. Proper sleep sets you up to face impromptu challenges with composure, focus, and energy. Answer “yes” to all four questions, and your sleep habits align with this outcome.
Do you go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even when you don’t need to?
Good sleep counts on a consistent schedule. The hormones that regulate sleep and wakefulness are sensitive to abrupt changes. It takes several days to recover when you stray from an established schedule. An erratic (or non-existent) sleep routine leads to hormonal chaos.
Do you leave the bedroom if you don’t fall asleep within 20-30 minutes?
Remaining in bed, clock-checking and worrying, creates associations that feed insomnia. Instead of a relaxing and enjoyable space, your bedroom turns into a source of anxiety.
Supply the Demand
Do you know and get the optimal hours of sleep needed for your age and current demands?
During sleep, your brain cycles through several stages, characterized by unique brainwaves. You need a set number of these cycles to repair tissue damage, restore memory and immune functions, and refresh your energy supply for the next day. The various tasks get completed during different stages, some only in certain cycles.
Transition to Bedtime
Do you take time to prepare your environment and mind for sleep?
Externally, this means eliminating temperature, noise, and light disruptions. Internal transitions include toning down your thoughts and emotions. Digital device usage is a strike against the ideal setup for both your environment and brain. The resulting blue light exposure delays sleep hormone production. Engaging with social media, videos, and news stories keeps brain activity running high.
If the R.E.S.T. challenge revealed some unhelpful sleep habits, explore them further with the sleep quiz on our brand new site, The Balanced Introvert. This sleep analysis and improvement tool troubleshoots sleep issues. Especially give it a try if you suffer from poor sleep three or more times a month.
How much sleep do you need, anyway? The answer is more of a range than an exact amount. Find out your optimal slumber number using the age slider below.
You may function noticeably better at one end or the other of your sleep range. Your sleep needs also increase when sick, healing from an injury, or recovering from intense exercise.
If you allowed yourself to wake up without an alarm clock, how many hours would you sleep? Provided you feel well-rested when you wake up, this experiment narrows down your sleep number even further.
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