Sleep deprived? You are not alone.
One in three Americans are not getting the recommended 7 hours of sleep a night, and that recommendation might be too low for some people.
According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep
Research Society, sleeping less than seven hours a day is associated with an increased risk of developing chronic conditions such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and frequent mental stress. (1)
Besides serious health problems, not enough sleep can lead to accidents, decreased intelligence, decreased sex drive, depression, aging skin, weight gain, impaired
Just hearing those statistics increases my mental stress.
And of-course stress can cause or increase sleep difficulties. Urrgh!
What to do?
Unbeknownst to the masses, there is one option that can help replace the sleep you didn’t get last night. It doesn’t take long and there are no negative side effects. In fact, there are several amazing benefits.
That’s right – Meditation.
A quick 20 minute “med” as we call them in our home, gives your body the same rest as it would during a 1 1/2-hour nap, but without waking up with that groggy, “sleep hangover” feeling. (2) In fact, you will probably get an energy boost instead.
Meditation also improves memory. “Now where did I put those keys?” It enhances attention and creativity, slows the aging process, and turns off the stress response. In actually reverses most of the problems that lack of sleep creates.
But I digress. More about meditation in other articles.
Back to sleep.
Try a Relaxation Exercise
Generally, you don’t want to do
Listening to a guided relaxation exercise or the right types of music before bed can initiate that relaxation response and help you fall asleep more quickly and more deeply.
Get Some Sunshine
What does the bright light of the sun have to do with a great night’s sleep? A lot. Bright light and darkness work together to regulate melatonin, the hormone that induces sleep.
When blue light from the sun or artificial sources such as computer screens fades, melatonin production kicks in. This is why sleep experts tell us to turn off the screens at least an hour before bed to help us sleep better. For more information on how that all works check out this article Why Bright Lights and Dark Nights are Essential for Sleep.
Phyllis Zee, a Northwestern Medicine neurologist
If meditation, relaxation, and going outside in the winter aren’t enough, check out these other “how to get better sleep” articles: