Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Sleep Habits: The Negatives and Some Tips

We all know that sleep is essential to function effectively on a daily basis.  A loss of a few hours one night can leave us grouchy, sleepy and less productive for an entire day, sometimes longer.  Unfortunately, this is something I've had to deal with for the past few months, and just as I was working towards getting myself back on a regular sleep schedule, the holiday season came along and completely destroyed that.

One of my New Years Resolutions is to try to get 7-8 hours of sleep every night no matter what.  Hopefully my eye circles might slowly disappear.  I don't wear make up ever unless I want to dress up my eyes a bit for a night out or a more formal event, so the darkness under my eyes is never hidden.  So, one reasons down for why I definitely need to work on getting more sleep.  Here are a few more negative effects you might know, or you might not know, to show why we should all try to get more sleep!

Did I mention the irritability?  You definitely don't want to be the continual grouch because of lack of sleep.  Your sense of humor and your patience levels are drastically lowered after a poor night of sleep.  We all have annoying co-workers, but how well you deal with them can depend on how long you were able to sleep the night before.

Let's talk immune systems.  Throughout college I was sick more than a few times every year, to the point where my mother kept commenting about how often I was getting sick.  As a typical college student who wanted to do well, but still have a social life, my sleep habits were erratic at best until I started student teaching, but even then, noisy neighbors, and housemates who kept very different hours, all contributed to perpetuating my poor sleeping habits.  That lack of sleep can weaken your immune system and makes you more prone to getting sick.  Apparently, sleep can also have an effect on how long you will live as well.  So, throw out the poor habits and usher in the new!

A lack of focus can be a big indicator of sleep deprivation.  I know that for me, the months before I began to work towards becoming more healthy, I had trouble remembering things, and I felt dull, all of which led to difficulty in making decisions and avoiding any major choices.  On that note, lack of sleep can also cause anxiety and nervousness that weakens the ability to deal with stress every day.

A big one for me is the affect lack of sleep has on the way the body processes food.  It is a negative impact and it can lead to weight gain.

I'm sure that you know whether or not you get enough sleep every night, but if you need some more confirmation of your sleep habits, take this quiz: http://www.divine.ca/en/quizzes/c_25_i_3062/are-you-getting-enough-sleep-1.html
I found it to be surprisingly accurate when it came to my results.

Now that we've confirmed the unhealthy sleep habits, here are some tips to help you sleep better every night.

The first one, which might be a bit obvious, is exercise.  Make sure to go a few hours before you plan on sleeping though, instead of right before otherwise you will end up staying later and you won't sleep as well.

Consider making your bedroom a technology-free area.  I happen to do my best working sitting on my bed, but it is definitely something to consider.  Being stimulated by a laptop, or a tv before you try to go to sleep is not conducive to a good rest.  In the same vein, make your bedroom a food-free zone.  This way your body will associate the room with rest.

Listen to music before bed.  I believe that soft, calmer music is called for in this case.  You can always set a timer on your iPod or music player so that it will shut off after a certain amount of time just in case you fall asleep while listening.

Try to go to bed at the same time each night, and keep a regular pre-bedtime routine.  The regulation will help you to relax and also clue your body in to the fact that it is time to sleep.

That's all for sleep habits now.  Hopefully you'll get some use out of this post.  Send me any topic requests!  I'm always looking for new things to investigate.  Have a great day!

P.S. Before you go, take the poll on the top right.  Thanks!

Photo Inspirations:  These are taken from http://reasonstobefit.tumblr.com/

Because every time I hear this song on the radio, I laugh :)
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