Sleep is one of the most crucial activities we must master to live healthily. Yet, it seems that culturally we have created a world in which binge-watching your favourite TV show until 3 am is acceptable and even praised. It has become something so embedded in our lives that some people have made this process of watching something before sleep so permanent that they claim sleeping is easier if the TV is on.
Sleep, something so basic and yet so powerful, seems to have lost the importance it had before. The truth is, even though resting during the night is one of the most fundamental wellness habits, it seems to be also one of the most overlooked aspects of a healthy lifestyle.
The side effects of not sleeping well
Our Partners, Natural Food Pantry, had the privilege to chat with Dr. NavNirat Nibber in this fabulous chat. Among the many topics covered, Dr. Nibber discusses some of the side effects of not sleeping well.
- Immune functions may start failing: Your immune system requires sleep to work properly. Depriving your body of the natural sleep cycles can negatively affect your health, including falling ill with ease simply because you are not resting enough.
- Experiencing cognitive decline and fatigue: Most of us may have had to go a day without sleeping – the result, a long and foggy day afterward. And even though a single lousy night may not be a problem, prolonged periods of irregular sleep can have a significant impact on your cognitive functions.
- Mood and stress changes: Hormone levels, among many other aspects of our bodies, stabilize overnight. A good night’s sleep is key to waking up energized and calm. Do not be surprised if you feel a little anxious or upset after a sleepless night.
- Unable to maintain muscle mass: Muscles regenerate when we go to sleep. That is why the key to having a healthy body goes beyond regular exercise and a healthy diet. Sleep is crucial to recover the energy needed to work out the next day, and it is also fundamental for your muscles’ healing process.
Remember, these are only some of the side effects. Sleep is fundamental and if you are not sleeping well, looking for professional help is essential.
What to do to improve your sleep habits?
- Set an alarm to go to bed: In the hyper-active always-on world we live in, it is essential to remember to take care of ourselves and stop working. An easy way to do this is to set up an alarm that reminds you to stop and get ready for sleep.
- Create a sleep routine: Beyond the alarm, make sure you create a series of habits that let your body and mind know it is time for bed. That might include drinking a cup of tea, reading a book, meditating, perhaps even going for a light walk to let go of the stress of the day.
- Avoid screens during your sleep routine: We use screens for everything except when we sleep. That means your brain associates screens to activities that do not belong in the sleep category. Do your best to avoid screens a couple of hours before sleep, and if you want to take it a step further, try to avoid phones in your living room.
- Eat well and exercise regularly: Balancing your body and mind is necessary to sleep well. Eating a healthy meal before bed (instead of a burger) will help your body and mind embrace the sleep routine better. Likewise, regular exercise is crucial for your body to understand that rest is necessary. If you feel you have too much energy when you are going to bed, chances are you may need to move a little more during the day.
Although there are many other things you can do to sleep better, it is essential to keep in mind that some sleep issues might require professional support. Please visit your doctor if you have tried everything we mentioned above and are still experiencing prolonged sleepless nights.