Why is it really so essential to get a good night’s sleep?
And what if you just can’t find your way to dreamland, even if you go to bed at a decent time?
Sleep is important for our health. We know that by now, but do you also know how important it really is?
It doesn’t have to be that difficult to get through the sleepless nights – you just have to respect your circadian rhythm.
According to sleep experts, we should prioritise a good night’s sleep before everything else – including exercise and a healthy diet.
-In a busy everyday life, it can be difficult both to find time to exercise for at least 30 minutes and to sleep the hours the body needs. The best, of course, is if you can fit both parts into your life. If you can’t do that, you should always make sure you get your sleep.
When you disappear into dreamland, the body’s tissues are rebuilt, the immune system is strengthened, the brain stores important information in memory, the blood vessels are kept in shape, the stress hormones disappear, and the appetite is regulated so that you do not overeat the next day. All in all, something that helps keep you in top physical and mental shape.
Destress − and sleep well
All that can be very good. But what if you just can’t fall asleep?
If you lie tossing and turning in bed until well past midnight?
Unfortunately, many women today struggle with falling asleep and sleeping well. The researchers do not know why it is women who are affected. Maybe it’s because of hormones, or perhaps it’s because women are programmed by nature to be on alert to hear if the babies are crying.
It might also have to do with the fact that women today push themselves way too hard.
And precisely the aspect of gearing down in the evening is all-important for a good night’s sleep. You can’t get under the covers five minutes after turning off the computer or sending important text messages and then expect to fall asleep immediately. Instead, make sure to turn off all electronics at least an hour before bed. Computers, mobile phones and televisions don’t just disturb your thoughts; the blue light from the screen also prevents the sleep hormone melatonin from being released in the body.
Use the time to be good to yourself. Do relaxation and breathing exercises. Listen to some soothing music. Think through the day and write tomorrow’s tasks down on paper if you can’t let them go. If you go to bed with just one slight worry, you reduce deep sleep by up to 50 per cent.
Stress is sleep’s worst enemy!
You must have both light and darkness
You can do a great deal to help your inner circadian rhythm, though. E.g. you should get up at the same time every day – also at the weekend. If you sleep until 11:00, you confuse your internal clock, and you will have difficulty falling asleep the next night. Furthermore, the daylight we get first thing in the day is crucial for producing enough sleep hormone in the evening.
So, this is not rocket science. But many still forget to respect their circadian rhythm. They don’t get enough light during the day and not enough darkness in the evening and at night. Everyone should have blackout curtains in the bedroom. Even dim light from, e.g. street lights can result in the brain not releasing nearly as much melatonin.
But how do you know you’ve slept well and slept enough? If you need seven cups of coffee to get through the day, and if you fall asleep at 7 pm in front of the television, you sleep too little. If, on the other hand, you feel happy, well-rested and full of energy, the opposite is the case. Most people need about 7.5 hours of sleep. Six hours and under is too little, while nine hours and over is too much.
However, remember that if you do a lot of exercises, e.g. training for a marathon, your need for sleep increases as it can be challenging to find time for both work, training and sleep, and therefore many compromise with the latter.