Sleep is the primary time that your body recovers and repairs itself from all of the different stress that you subject it to on a daily basis. It is imperative that you establish proper sleep habits that allow your body to devote the necessary time and resources to the essential physiological tasks of recovery and repair. A lack of sleep, both in quantity and quality, create a physiological deficit that will be hard to overcome, no matter how focused you are on the rest of your life.
- Read about Stress
- Understand the importance of sleep
- Develop an evening routine to ensure that you get adequate sleep each and every night
To start off, answer the 11 questions below.
1. Do you have trouble falling asleep at night?
2. Do you have difficulty waking up in the morning?
3. Do you sleep less than 8-9 hours a night?
4. Do you wake up once or more in the middle of the night?
5. Do you sleep in a room with any light or noise in it?
6. Do you wake up feeling tired?
7. Do you wake up only with an alarm?
8. Do you go to bed later than 11 PM?
9. Do you get up earlier than 6 AM?
10. Do you use medications (OTC or Rx) to help sleep?
11. Are there electronic devices within six feet of your bed?
If you answer yes to two or more of the following questions, you NEED to address your sleep habits. Be honest with yourself. The only person you are hurting is yourself. Instead of trying to justify why you don’t have ideal sleep habits, work to systematically improve them. Which of the 11 questions do you have the biggest problem with?
Each of the questions above has a long explanation associated with its important to your sleep and overall health. We will briefly look at each question and a short explanation of why it is an important factor in achieving optimal health.
Do you have trouble falling asleep at night?
If you have trouble falling asleep, it is a sign that there is an imbalance within your hormones and/ or neurotransmitters that prevent you from relaxing at night and falling asleep.
Do you have trouble waking up in the morning?
Difficulty waking up in the morning can be closely associated with trouble falling asleep, or it can be unrelated. Trouble waking up in the morning is also an indication that there are hormone imbalances that need to be addressed. Similar to your circadian rhythm, your body has a cortisol rhythm that fluctuates throughout the day. In the morning, cortisol should spike to help you wake up alert and ready to take on the day.
Do you sleep less than 8-9 hours a night?
Your body needs at least eight hours of sleep to properly go through all of its processes of repair and recovery. While it is possible to get as little as seven hours of sleep, eight or more is better. Considering we are all subjected to high levels of stress, both out of our control and stress that we subject ourselves to, it is important to provide your body with adequate time to repair and recover.
Do you wake up once or more in the middle of the night?
Waking up in the middle of the night, whether to urinate or for another reason, is a sign of disturbed sleep. Ideally, once you fall asleep, you shouldn’t “wake-up” again until it is time to get out of the bed in the morning. This ensures that your body can go through all three of its sleep cycles uninterrupted, devoting adequate time to each stage, and the processes that take place within each.
Do you sleep in a room with any light or noise in it?
Whether you perceive it or not, light and noise can prevent your body from naturally transitioning through and spending adequate time in each sleep stage. While white noise can be used in certain circumstances when it would be hard to eliminate all external noise, your room should always be as close to pitch black as possible. If you hold your hand one foot in front of your face, you shouldn’t be able to see it.
Do you wake up feeling tired?
This can be closely related to the idea of having difficulty waking up in the morning. It can be a sign that your hormones are out of balance. Waking up feeling tired can also indicate that the sleep you are getting isn’t as restorative as it should be. So, if you are getting eight plus hours of sleep every night and you are still waking up tired, it is potentially a sign of some sort of repair deficit.
Do you wake up only with an alarm?
This can simply be an indication that you need more sleep than the amount of time you are devoting. If you set an alarm to get seven hours of sleep and are still sound asleep when the alarm goes off, that is an obvious sign that your body actually wanted more. Ideally, you should wake up every morning without the need of an alarm. Needing an alarm to wake up can also be related to feeling tired in the morning and difficulty waking up in general.
Do you go to bed later than 11 pm?
Your body has a natural circadian rhythm that is closely related to the cycle of the sun. Physiologically, when the sun goes down and it gets dark outside, that should be a trigger for your body to start to release melatonin and prepare your body for sleep. We use lights and electronics to artificially keep our homes illuminated, and altogether ignore the natural transition to sleep. You should go to bed at the same time each night, no later than 11 pm, ideally closer to 10 pm.
Do you get up earlier than 6 am?
This is also related to your body’s natural rhythms as mentioned above. Your body’s signal to wake up in the morning is supposed to be the rising sun, which triggers receptors in your body to start bringing you out of sleep in preparation for the day. Getting up earlier than 6 am also puts you in jeopardy of not getting a sufficient eight hours of sleep, unless you are going to bed by 9 pm every night.
Do you use medications to help you sleep?
This is a clear indication that there is some imbalance in your physiology that you are needing to address with medication. The underlying causes of your sleep dysfunction can be varied. Determining the cause of your sleep dysfunction, which the medication is addressing, and then working to overcome the dysfunction will not only help improve your sleep, but your entire physiology.
Are there electronics within six feet of your bed?
Firstly, a cell phone anywhere near your bed can provide both the distraction of actively checking it, or any notifications that may come through if the phone wasn’t silenced completely, even from vibrations. Secondly, all electronics emit an electromagnetic field that does disturb your own electronic field. While we are bombarded by electronics all day long, it shouldn’t be too hard to minimize your exposure for the eight or more hours you sleep each night.
- Pick one of the above questions to work on at a time. When it becomes a new, beneficial habit, pick the next one.
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