Although often overlooked, sleep is as important as exercise and nutrition. These three elements together form the iron triangle of health.
Do you sleep for the recommended amount of time or more and still feel tired? Your sleep cycle is most likely disturbed. Knowing ways to optimize your sleep is key to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
If you want to stop feeling drowsy every morning and hitting the snooze button over and over again, or if you want to become more productive during the day and improve your mental health, this blog post is for you!
Quality sleep over quantity.
A study published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research found that quality of sleep is more important than quantity of sleep when it comes to feeling rested and rejuvenated.
That means that it’s not the amount of time you spend in the bed that counts but how well you sleep. So what is quality sleep?
According to the National Sleep Foundation, quality sleep means:
- Sleeping more time while in bed (at least 85% of the total time). Don’t spend hours scrolling your facebook feed in bed.
- Falling asleep in 30 minutes or less.
- Waking up no more than once per night.
- Being awake for 20 minutes or less after initially falling asleep. More than this would be considered as insomnia and disrupt your sleep pattern too much.
Sleep optimization has the power to change your life. You will witness an increase in your energy levels, better physical performance, and improved emotional and social functioning. Quality sleep also boosts your immune system and mental well being.
Related post: The Beginner’s Guide To Sleep Hygiene
Lack of quality sleep can have many consequences on your health. Sleep affects productivity and focus. Lack of sleep reduces cognitive functions, but can also cause weight gain.
Related post: Lack Of Sleep Can Cause Weight Gain
When sleepless nights happen too often, the mental effects become serious. Your risks of injury and accidents on the road, at home or at work increase. It can also affect your overall health and make you prone to serious health conditions such as depression, anxiety, heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.
My tips to falling asleep faster.
If you’ve already established a sleep hygiene but your brain is still going crazy when it’s time to fall asleep, maybe the following tips will help you quiet down your thoughts and fall asleep faster.
Picture your brain as an empty, blacked out room. Listen to the silence. Get yourself out of your brain. Focus on your surroundings and the silence. Breathe slowly. Your brain might try to go back to its racing thoughts. Fight against it. Focus on the silence and your body in relation to the room. Do not listen to your thoughts and do not feed them! This usually happens when you are excited about something coming up and try to anticipate everything. You create a scenario and imagine what will happen then. DO NOT DO THIS!!! Same when it’s about something that happened and you wish it hadn’t happened that way. Focus on the present.
Don’t think about the time passing. It’s already too late anyways. Don’t pressure yourself to fall asleep rapidly and let your brain slowly calm down.
If doing it by yourself doesn’t work, try meditating apps. You can either follow a guided meditation or play the sound of rain and thunderstorm, waves, or birds in the forest. All these sounds are deeply relaxing. Focus on them, visualize yourself in this environment. Soon, you’ll be dreaming and getting some well deserved Zzz’s.
How to catch up on lost sleep?
There’s only one way: get more sleep. You won’t be able to catch up in a single night. Add an extra hour or two of sleep a night, and try to take naps as much as possible. Also, try to resist to caffeinated or energy drinks as much as possible. They may boost you temporarily but they can disrupt your sleep patterns even more in the long run.