Have you ever seen a puppy totally crash after a long, exciting walk? We’re not all that different to dogs, really. It’s in our sleep that the mind processes what it’s experienced during the day. Sleep is also a necessary window for organ repair, keeping our bodies in top condition.
But deep sleep is where we benefit most. Our cells regenerate, the immune system strengthens. And we only get 1 to 2 hours of deep sleep a night — so we need to make the most of it.
With COVID dreams and election anxiety threatening to steal those precious couple of hours away, the things you do in the lead up to bed can help you catch those deep sleep cycles, too.
True or false: If you drink coffee after 4pm, you can kiss goodbye to a restful, deep sleep?
True. Some people have a much higher tolerance for caffeine than others (double espresso after dinner, anyone?). But caffeine does stimulate your nervous system, preventing your body from relaxing once you’re in bed.
The effects of caffeine linger in your body for 6-8 hours. So even if it doesn’t keep you from falling asleep, it will prevent you from entering into the deep sleep your brain needs to rejuvenate overnight.
A Good Life tip >>Switch to herbal tea if you need an afternoon pick-me-up: even decaf coffee still has traces of caffeine that’ll stimulate your body.
True or false: Checking Twitter from bed will keep you awake?
True. Sleep hygiene is a real thing. And scrolling through social media while you’re meant to be winding down is a big no-no.
Not only can the content you’re seeing spike your anxiety levels, but the blue light from your phone can really mess with your circadian rhythms. Light shining into your retinas tricks your brain into thinking it’s daytime, and keeps you firing all cylinders. For optimal sleep hygiene, we shouldn’t be doing anything in bed other than sleeping and having sex.
A Good Life tip >>Some phones have a feature where your screen will emit a warmer-colored light late at night. But it’s better to just have zero screen time for at least 30 minutes before bed.
True or false: Alcohol stops you from falling into a deep sleep?
True. Alcohol impedes deep and restful sleep, even if a glass of robust red may feel like it helps you drift off. Beer, wine and spirits have all been proven to affect your body’s melatonin production, which is needed to regulate your circadian rhythm.
You may also feel less well rested the morning after the night before. That’s because your body was prevented from falling into its usual REM cycles of deep sleep.
A Good Life tip >>Drink a glass of water between each drink and before you go to bed.
True or false: Taking a bath before bed helps you get a deep sleep?
True. Our bodies are pretty delicate — one small thing can set off a chain reaction.
Your body’s internal temperature is a key factor in your quality of sleep. So a hot bath or shower can help raise your body temperature to an ideal place for restful, deep sleep — especially in winter. The heat also helps your muscles relax, which signals your brain that it’s time to rest.
A Good Life tip >>Don’t have a tub at home? No worries. Even bathing just your feet in hot water has been proven to positively impact your sleep.
“Sleep is the best meditation.” – Dalai Lama
In a perfect world, we’d all get 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night — 2 of which would count as deep sleep. But it doesn’t always work out that way.
That said, by introducing some good sleep hygiene habits, you’ll be able to squeeze in a few more quality Zs each week, and that’s enough to notice a positive change in your waking hours.
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