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Sleep is your super power

Updated: Jun 4, 2023

Sleep is a fundamental aspect of human life, yet it is often overlooked and neglected in today's busy world. Matthew Walker's book, "Why We Sleep," puts light on the importance of sleep and its impact on our physical, mental, and emotional well-being. In this blog post, we will explore five ways to optimize sleep based on the insights from "Why We Sleep".

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1. Stick to a Consistent Sleep Schedule

A solid sleep cycle starts with how and when we wake up-our bodies have a natural internal clock, known as the circadian rhythm, that regulates our sleep-wake cycle. Keeping a consistent sleep schedule helps to align our circadian rhythm, which in turn improves the quality and duration of our sleep. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends, to establish a regular sleep routine. Avoiding irregular sleep patterns, such as staying up late on weekdays and sleeping in on weekends, can disrupt our circadian rhythm and negatively impact our sleep quality.

2. Create a Sleep-Friendly Environment

Creating a conducive sleep environment can greatly improve the quality of our sleep. Make sure your bedroom is cool, dark, and quiet. Consider using blackout curtains, earplugs, or a white noise machine to block out any disturbances. Keep electronic devices, such as smartphones and laptops, away from your bed as the blue light emitted from screens can disrupt your circadian rhythm and interfere with sleep. Invest in a comfortable mattress and pillows that suit your personal preferences to ensure a good night's sleep.

3. Limit Caffeine and Alcohol Intake

Caffeine and alcohol are known to affect our sleep quality. Caffeine is a stimulant that can interfere with our ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. Avoid consuming caffeine-containing beverages or foods, such as coffee, tea, chocolate, and soda, close to bedtime. Caffeine has a half life(half the amount is still in your blood ) of 12 hours and will prohibit you from going into deep sleep and REM sleep. Similarly, while alcohol may initially make us feel drowsy, it can disrupt the natural sleep cycle, leading to poor sleep quality and frequent awakenings during the night. It's best to limit alcohol intake to a couple hours before bed, to optimize your sleep.

4. Establish a Relaxing Bedtime Routine

Having a relaxing bedtime routine can signal to our bodies that it's time to wind down and prepare for sleep. Engage in calming activities, such as reading a book, taking a warm bath( a hot bath can heat up your body and metabolically cool off your brain leading to better deep and REM sleep), or practicing relaxation techniques like deep breathing or meditation, before bedtime. Avoid stimulating activities, such as watching intense TV shows, engaging in vigorous exercise, or checking work emails, as these can elevate cortisol levels and make it harder to fall asleep.

5. Boundaries- Prioritize Sleep as a Non-Negotiable

In today's fast-paced world, sleep is often sacrificed for work, socializing, or other activities. Sleep should be prioritized as a non-negotiable aspect of our daily routine. Make a conscious effort to set aside enough time for sleep and resist the temptation to cut back on it. Prioritizing sleep and making it a non-negotiable part of your routine can have profound effects on your overall health and well-being.

Optimizing sleep is crucial for our physical, mental, and emotional health. A quote that haunts me and has stuck in my mind- "We are not living longer, we are dying longer". Longevity is about health span- how long can we live with our mobility, strength and memories intact. Sleep is a vital aspect to health-span- if we do not have sleep health we do not have health. Sweet dreams!

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