Sleep is a vital part of life. Even though sometimes sleep seems like a colossal waste of time (imagine what else could be done in 8 hours!), it is not, because it keeps the body healthy and well. There are many benefits to good sleep and the opposite of that is that there are many detriments to losing sleep.
Benefits of Good Sleep
Some of the benefits of getting enough sleep include better thinking power, more positive mood, healthier heart, more even blood sugar levels, better control of weight, stronger immune system, lower stress levels, more alertness, and better attention span.
Better thinking power
Both memory and creativity are boosted by getting proper quantity of sleep.
More positive mood
Some types of depression are completely alleviated by getting enough sleep.
Like all other muscles in the body, the heart needs a sufficient amount of sleep to rest and heal. In most people, the systems slow down during sleep, providing a time of reduced demand. A lack of sleep has been shown to increase the risk of heart disease.
More even blood sugar levels
Lack of sleep can cause a resistance to insulin, which can result in a rise in blood sugar. Additionally, the stress resulting from lack of sleep can negatively affect blood glucose levels. This means it is likely to have sugar cravings and have jumps and drops rather than the better smooth changes that happen with normal blood glucose changes.
Better control of weight
Another hormone, leptin, can find resistance when sleep has been insufficient. This hormone affects appetite and motivation to get up and do things. The lack of movement and cravings that happen when this hormone is resisted in the body will result in unwanted weight gain.
Stronger immune system
Mental and physical health are inextricably linked to a proper amount of sleep. Because the immune system is a very complex thing, the link may not be a simple “sleep and increase immune response,” but the end result is pretty much that. Resistance to infectious diseases such as colds and flu are less when sleep is less. This also applies to more major diseases such as heart disease and other serious diseases.
Lower stress levels
The response of the stress hormone cortisol is altered when one is sleep deficient. This is also known as adrenal fatigue. Instead of being alert in the morning, waning to sleepy at night, one may end up being the other way around, making the whole sleep deprivation into a vicious cycle.
Again, if the hormone responses have been set wonky by lack of sleep, your alertness level is likely to be much lower, especially during times when you normally would be alert. This is why it can be very dangerous to drive when you have not had enough sleep.
Better attention span
When you are sleeping enough at night, your attention and focus will be much more appropriate and will serve you better throughout your working hours.
How to Improve Sleep
Many things can cause poor sleep patterns, and not the least of these is children. Other factors include stress from relationships or work, unhealthy eating, and other lifestyle decisions.This can make it difficult for moms to get enough sleep. However, there are some things that you can do that can help.
Have a regular sleep schedule
Keeping the same schedule every day will help both you and your children to sleep better. The body gets used to the routine and naturally follows the pattern. Consistency reinforces the cycle and helps it to work for you in the future.
Watch your intake
Meals eaten too near to bedtime, overeating, or eating too far away from bedtime can all cause discomfort when attempting to sleep. Also, caffeine and nicotine may keep you awake, while alcohol might put you to sleep but it will not keep you asleep. Sugar may also cause wakefulness for some time after being ingested, so sugary drinks like soda pop or Kool-aid should probably be avoided in the evening.
Work, exercise, or even vigorous play will promote better sleep, especially if it is done outside in the fresh air. Human bodies are made to get fresh air and sunshine, and they are built to move.
Your bedroom should be perfect for sleeping. For most people, this means dark, quiet, and cool, though the temperature can vary from person to person. Light in the room may cause it to be more difficult to fall asleep, but a small nightlight to prevent injury during bathroom runs may be little enough light that it does not cause any adverse effects. This also means that phones, tablets, and laptops should not be used in bed. Studies indicate that these should be avoided for about a half hour before attempting to sleep, for best results. White noise can be helpful if there are ambient noises or other people in the house or neighborhood that need to be drowned out.
It may be helpful to take a warm shower or bath at bedtime to help relax and settle.
If one of your children is an infant, it is likely that you will need to get up in the middle of the night to feed and diaper the baby, and toddlers may not sleep all night for a while, either, but if you are required to get up during the night with a child, then it is not a bad idea to take a nap with them during the day, but remember to set an alarm to wake up to prevent your sleep cycle from becoming unbalanced.
If you cannot have the room dark for some reason, consider getting a sleep mask so that your eyes will be prevented from receiving the light.
This soft sleep mask will cover your eyes comfortably and block out all the light so you can sleep soundly.
If you have trouble getting to sleep, consider an herbal gummy that may assist in falling asleep. It is wise to use these sparingly, as using them too often can cause a dependency on them, and your body may stop producing the appropriate chemicals itself.
This one includes melatonin, the sleep hormone that is usually produced naturally, along with the amino acid L-Theanine and herbs like lemon balm and chamomile.
A white noise machine can be a good assistant. A fan is an option that not only introduces white noise, but also moves the air to keep it fresh. An option that uses less space in the room is a nightstand sized white noise machine.
This machine has two options for tone and volume. It masks background noise and helps to promote a good night’s sleep.
If you have tried everything you can think of and are still unable to sleep, consider talking to your doctor. There may be a treatment available that can assist you in attaining a restful night of sleep.