I wake myself up with a morning workout, then off to a full day of classes, followed by Gospel Choir rehearsal. I rush back to my dorm to write that article for my college newspaper. When I look at my clock to start my homework, it’s already nearing midnight!
Sometimes it feels like there’s no time for sleep. But we need to prioritize sleep in our daily schedules. Just as my many activities are embedded into my agenda, so should sleep.
Children and teens should be obtaining at least 10 hours of sleep daily, and adults, 7-8 hours. Achieving the proper amount of sleep increases our critical thinking skills, reaction time, and helps us create memories.
During sleep, our body produces hormones that stimulate growth in children and adolescents, increases muscle mass and helps repair our cells and tissues. Other hormones help our bodies fight infections, putting us at a lesser risk of becoming sick.
Getting insufficient sleep leaves us in a bad mood throughout the day, and can also cause medical conditions such as high blood pressure and heart disease.
Here are a few tips on getting a productive night’s sleep.
- Create a constant sleep schedule – Just like you may have an eating schedule and a workout schedule, it is necessary to develop a healthy sleep schedule. We get most sleepy between the hours of midnight and 7 a.m., and between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. Set aside the same block of sleep time each day of the week, and try to stick to it, even on the weekends.
- Avoid exercising at night – Exercise boosts our energy, which may cause difficulty in falling asleep. Exercise during the day.
- Avoid caffeine at night– Caffeine can take up to 8 hours to wear off. A cup of coffee in the morning before work or school is OK, but not with your dinner or late-night dessert.
- Avoid large meals at night – This may be difficult because as Americans, our largest meal tends to be dinner. But try breaking up your meals into consistent portions.
- Keep your naptime early – You may find difficulty falling asleep at night if you nap later than 3 p.m., or take naps longer than an hour.
- Calm the mind and body before bed – Read a book, stretch your muscles, or listen to calming music to unwind before bed.
- Having trouble falling asleep? – Lying in bed awake won’t help you fall asleep any faster. Perform a calming activity to soothe yourself to sleep.
This song by Corinne Bailey Rae is great for stretching and relaxing before sleep.
Like a Star: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wks05GsTkIA
Source: National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute