We all know better sleep means feeling healthier and better rested. But sometimes it’s easy to lose track of what exactly that means. In this, we’ll go over a bit about what sleep truly does for you, and how you can go about improving your sleep habits.
4 Great Sleep Benefits
1. Mental Performance
We’re all often at our happiest when we’re at our sharpest—and we’re at our sharpest, unsurprisingly, when we have adequate rest. We actually know this through studies that have focused on kids and their performance in school. And those studies have found a good night’s sleep can translate into improved academic performance.
This is helpful to know if you’re still in school or if you’re a parent, but we can also extrapolate it in the “real world.” Simply put, better sleep means a sharper mental performance, which can make your everyday life far less stressful.
2. Physical Health
Your physical health is linked to your happiness. If you don’t feel well, you won’t be at your happiness; if you’re self-conscious about your weight, you’ll likely feel anxious or lack confidence in other areas. And if you’re experiencing specific pain from inflammation or something of the like, you’re liable to be preoccupied every day. Sleep can help with these issues. Regarding inflammation, experts have shown sleep leads to a lower level of proteins responsible for the problem. As for weight, sleep isn’t known to affect actual weight loss, but where it comes from. Inadequate sleep can lead to a reduction in muscle mass, whereas proper sleep leads to fat burning.
In some ways, we relate stress to the other categories in which sleep can benefit you. For instance, we could ease our feelings of anxiety or low self-confidence in part by sleep. But even in a more general sense, we know adequate, deep sleep relieves stress and lowers blood pressure to optimal levels.
4. General Performance
We talked about mental performance bettered by sleep. But better sleep can physical capabilities too. A host of studies o athletes show sleep boosts your athletic performance in several ways. Athletes who get more sleep are faster, more likely to do strenuous workouts to stay in shape, and better coordinated to name a few things. These benefits may be more pronounced with athletes than with the rest of us, but they’re still there for anybody. Better sleep means better physical capability, which can certainly keep you cheerful.
Here’s a great resource page on the health benefits of sleep: Why Sleep Matters?
4 Good Sleep Habits
1. Diet Changes
It is well-known caffeine can stimulate you and keep you from falling asleep. Therefore, avoiding coffee and desserts heavy in chocolate is advisable if you want better sleep.
Nicotine interferes with sleep, and alcohol too can cause restless nights. Eliminating these things (while healthy) isn’t completely necessary for better sleep, but indulging in them less frequently is advisable, and in particular, avoid them in the second half of the day as much as possible.
2. Sleep Apps
It would be foolish to ignore how technology can now help us sleep. There is now essentially a full category of sleep apps available in Android and iOS stores, taking the place of clunky sleep sound machines people used to buy earlier.
You can try different options and find one that soothes you, and they may stun you with their effectiveness. Many of these apps won’t make specific claims about the science behind sleep sounds, or the effectiveness of their programs. But many people find by turning on sounds—rain, ocean waves, animals of the night, general white noise, etc.—they fall asleep more easily and wake feeling more rested.
3. VR (Virtual Reality) Programs
Here we’re looking forwards a bit, but the leap from sleep apps to VR relaxation is not a hard one to make. With VR, it’s worth remembering what came before modern games. On the internet, gaming sites were already exploring 3D options. Since Niantic released augmented reality Pokémon, we now see AR creatures taking the world by storm through Android and iOS games.
Thus, we can expect apps geared toward relaxation and better sleep to be translated into some form to VR. It may not be something you wear all night, but there are already examples of soothing VR apps designed to relax people, almost meditatively, before sleep.
Perhaps more important than any other step is to create a better environment for sleep. You should make your room as dark as possible, which may mean purchasing new curtains or shutters, or perhaps even buying a sleep mask if it’s something you’re comfortable wearing. It’s widely accepted a cooler room facilitates better sleep.
And of course, you’ll also want to make sure your mattress and bedding are comfortable and supportive. While they can seem somewhat gimmicky, mattress companies offering scores and tests to customize a better sleeping experience seem to know what they’re doing. Ultimately, this is simply a more complex category than many people realize.
As mentioned in the introduction, most people accept proper sleep is part of a healthy lifestyle. It’s natural, and difficult to argue with. But particularly leading the busy lives the 21st-century demands of us, many of us do nothing to arm ourselves with that knowledge.
The above-listed benefits and methods here are not exhaustive. The positive effects of adequate rest could fill a 1,000-page book (and probably have), and methods for getting better sleep can differ somewhat from person to person.
But hopefully, this has showed some of the most important reasons to seek out better sleep, and some creative means by which you might do so.
We know sleep is important, but we don’t bother finding out how much it means for our health, or how to get more of it. If you, or someone you know, suffer from disturbed sleep, here’s an amazing post on the best sleep science hacks: 6 Scientific Sleep Hacks.
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Author Bio: Joe Lindsey is a freelance writer. A majority of his writing concerns exercise, general wellness, and lifestyle.
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