In the frenetically paced world we live in, sleep deprivation is more common than not. But a good night’s sleep—which for most adults is anywhere from six to eight hours—really isn’t a luxurious suggestion. You know that if you don’t have a sound sleep the night before, you drag through the day and have a tough time functioning properly. However, it goes much deeper than that.
Chronic sleep deficiencies can lead to heightened risk of diabetes, stroke, kidney disease, and heart disease. Are you working out and trying to eat healthfully but not really making any strides in weight loss, and in fact, do you notice more midsection fat than you remembered? Lack of sleep plays a huge part in that, as it does in puberty, fertility, growth, and muscle repair.
Now, knowing what we do, how can we help ourselves in the sleep department?
Get in Sleep Mode: Before bed, try to establish a “wind-down” protocol of your own. Shut off the TV and computer and turn over your phone so it faces down on your nightstand (thus eliminating its tempting glow). Take a warm shower or bath, do some light stretching, pray, and get comfortable.
Rise and Set at the Same Times: Yes, this means even on the weekend. Try to keep to a similar sleep schedule as often as possible, as you can disrupt your natural body clock’s sleeping/waking cadence otherwise.
Avoid Heavy, Large Meals Within Hours of Bedtime: Try to allow your body to have roughly 12 hours to digest food and detox. If you skipped dinner and are ravenous, have something very light, such as fruit, toast, or raw veggies with hummus.
Keep It Cool and Dark: Use heavy curtains, draw your blinds tight, and try to eliminate the use of a night-light as much as possible. We also tend to sleep best in a cooler temperature of about 65 degrees. If you feel chilly, keep cozy with extra blankets. The idea is to give yourself cooler air to breathe while sleeping, which really helps.
Power Nap: If you are just tuckered out during the day and can catch a snooze, do so for 20-30 minutes only. This is enough to give you a boost and not interfere with the night’s rest still to come. Keep your nap space quiet and cool, and set an alarm on your phone for the time needed.
Get Your Exercise: Regular workouts, regardless of when you do them during the day, contribute to better sleep quality. As a solid workout can give you a burst of energy, performing one immediately prior to bedtime may not be ideal for all people.
Ask God: I’m not kidding. As a child, in my bedtime prayers I’d ask for a good night’s rest and good dreams (I was a nightmare-prone type of kid). If you really struggle to get the rest your body deserves, ask for divine help.
Talk to Your Doctor: If you are unable to improve your sleep quality no matter what you try and are really struggling, please speak to your doctor to explore any underlying issues you may not be aware of.
Wilona Karimabadi is an assistant editor for Adventist Review and a NASM certified personal trainer who values a good night’s sleep immensely.