So many of us strive to lead healthier, happier lives – in a variety of ways. We modify our diets, take supplements, join the gym and spend a phenomenal amount of money each year on products and services that make us feel better. But unless you’re getting a good night’s rest, it can all be for nothing. It’s no secret that sleep deprivation can cause irritability, poor judgment, premature aging of the skin… but it can lead to much worse things. Several studies have shown that long term it can cause illness, both physical and mental. A proper night’s sleep is the cornerstone around which you should build the rest of your healthy lifestyle.
Take Back Some Control
The problem we have in finding that elusive good night’s rest is that we have very little control over it. We have a lot more control over our diet and exercise but so many things beyond our control can affect our sleep. The stresses of everyday existence, whether the cause is the job, the kids, the partner, bills… all part of our daily lives that contribute to the difficulties in winding down at the end of the day.
Over ten million people in the US are prescribed sleep aids by their doctor and an estimated 20% of us regularly suffer some form of insomnia. So how can we tackle the problem head on? Well, it might be largely beyond our control but there are damage limitation options.
Drug-Free Sleep Improvement
Experts the world over will tell you how important a good pillow and mattress are and should be very high on our list of good investments. Not only do poor ones contribute to back and neck pain, but if they’re not molding our bodies in the right way we can be left turning the whole night through, disturbing our sleep even further. So, if we’re going to spend a third of our lives lying on something, let’s make sure it’s comfortable. If memory foam is good enough for astronauts, it’s good enough for us. A memory foam mattress can benefit you in several areas – it can mould to your body’s shape, relieving pressure in areas a sprung mattress not only can’t, but can poke at those areas as it ages. It can also eliminate the need to turn your mattress because it bounces back into shape time after time.
Some people find memory foam pillows difficult to get used to because they’re firmer than a regular pillow. A latex pillow on the other hand is a fantastic alternative, cradling the neck and face wonderfully and always bouncing back into shape.
There are literally thousands of drug-free sleep-aid products out there, from herbal remedies and mood lights through to some very advanced gadgets and phone apps. Sleep experts agree that how we wake up does contribute to how we feel for the rest of the day. Being woken abruptly often increases the heart rate and blood pressure and can make us feel out of sorts for the rest of the day. Philips make a USB wake-up light and it’s a fantastic and affordable gadget. It gently and gradually wakes the sleeper thirty minutes before the time we want to get up, using a combination of sounds and low lighting. The concept behind it is to create the effect of a sunrise, ensuring we wake up naturally and refreshed. No more throwing that loud, terrible-sounding alarm clock across the bedroom in a morning rage.
There’s also the Wakemate, a phone or tablet accessory. The sleeper wears a comfortable wrist band that monitors sleep patterns and uploads the findings, wirelessly, each morning. The objective is that by recording our sleep patterns the gadget will discover the optimal time to bring us out of sleep – usually during the lightest part of our sleep cycle.
It Doesn’t Have To Cost The Earth
There are even ways we can help get a restful night’s sleep that don’t cost a cent, such as spending thirty minutes before bed doing something that relaxes your mind. Listening to gentle music is a great way to wind down after a long day. Advice on relaxation techniques can be found all over the internet and almost all of them will involve breathing exercises – a proven way of de-stressing. Regular wind-down routines can make a real different to the quality of our sleep.
If you look after your night you’re already half way to a much healthier day.
- IZZY WOODS