A quick Google search for activities to improve your wellness will give you more results than you could ever read through. On one hand, you have the crowd of people who believe, without a shadow of a doubt, that the food you consume is the end-all-be-all to improving and maintaining health. On the other hand, a sizable portion of the American population has taken up gym-related activities for both physical and mental health reasons. Assuredly, there is someone in your life who you might categorize as a gym rat. It seems that everyone and their mother are using the latest groundbreaking idea that will supposedly allow you to reach your health goals.
Unfortunately, the sheer number of suggestions for attaining wellness means that you will never be able to give each one a fair shake. How then are you supposed to find wellness in your daily life? Actress and author Suzanne Somers offered a solution, “Sleep has been provided by nature to do the body’s healing work, and it takes seven or eight hours for this process to happen. Commit to getting at least seven to eight hours of good quality sleep every night to keep your body and hormones in balance.”
On a basic level, this should give you a glimpse as to why sleep has been touted as the perfect solution to the question of personal wellness. But the gist of what Somers had to say only scratches the surface of how your sleep habits change everything. If you’re interested in finding out more, let’s get into it.
Create a Safe Place
You may not be aware of all the elements contributing to the quality of sleep you’re getting each night. “Even while sleeping, the human body is sensitive to light,” said Stephanie Venn-Watson, CEO of Seraphina Therapeutics. “If you’re looking to improve your sleep, you should see if there are light sources of any kind because they’re nothing more than a distraction.”
Things such as sunlight or light bulbs may come to mind here. As they should, if you don’t turn off the light or cover the window in preparation for the morning, you’re in for an unpleasant awakening. Not only will it be bright, but it will also be earlier than you would have preferred. These two problems are addressed easily with little initiative.
The truth is phones and TVs are the biggest culprits in this regard. And it seems that everyone sleeps with theirs on, or at least capable of waking them up. No matter how you look at it, nothing that takes place in the next Netflix episode will have any positive bearing on your sleep. So why not put it away until you’re able to pay attention instead of it being a distraction? Christy Pyrz, Chief Marketing Officer of Paradigm Peptides talked about this, “I feel like I know more people who sleep with their TV on than don’t. Yet these same people wonder why they’re tired all the time. They may not want to hear it, but their TV is the one keeping them up, not putting them to sleep.”
Don’t Skimp out on Bedding
Crawling into a bed made with fresh, cozy sheets and blankets is an experience in and of itself. Remember that time you stayed in a friend’s guest bedroom and their bedding took your breath away? There is no one stopping you from doing something similar with your sleep setup. After all, with how much time you should be spending in this area, it is incredibly justifiable.
“Everyone will spend roughly one-third of their entire life asleep. So, what is the point in being uncomfortable for that long?” says Tyler Read, Founder and Senior Editor of Personal Trainer Pioneer. “Even if it costs noticeably more than you would have liked to spend on your bed, sheets, and more, after a week of using it, you’ll never return to the way things were.”
Just as with fashion and food, you certainly have preferences for what items you use for sleep. Be it the size or material of the mattress, or the types of sheets, you know what you like and how you like it. So long as you are getting quality sleep every night, there is no right or wrong way to go about this. But, if quality sleep is not happening, it might be time to reacquaint yourself with your sleep preferences. Jimmy Minhas, Founder and CEO of GerdLi said as much, “At the end of the day, good sleep is built off personal comfort. Do you know how you like to sleep or the mattress that best suits your body type? A little research into these types of things can really benefit your sleep.”
What Are You Putting in your Body?
The question above may seem vague at best. In truth, it is meant to present you with the wide-ranging impacts any number of items can have on the human body. Take nicotine as an example. Generally, users inhale it into their lungs. After extended use, a habit forms which results in active harm to your sleep. Shaun Price, Head of Customer Acquisition at MitoQ pointed this out, “Anyone who has used nicotine for an extended period knows firsthand what it’s like to wake up from the withdrawals. Sure, the withdrawals themselves may not kill you, but a continued pattern of sleep deprivation might.”
Let’s keep the proverbial ball rolling here and discuss caffeine, another substance you can put in your body. In more ways than one, it appears to have become a near-necessity for most of society. Between coffee culture and energy drink culture, there is no slowing down the behemoth that is this trend. Kids in college rely on these beverages day in and day out. Nine to five employees seem to do the same. But not all trends are what they appear to be. Instead of the euphoric bursts of energy caffeine is advertised to provide, it can do just the opposite. “Like any drug, caffeine is a downhill slide after your first use or two of it,” said Mark Sider, CEO and Co-Founder of Greater Than. “We could run down the list of what it can do but I’ll just say that your sleep will wind up in the gutter if you’re a regular caffeine drinker.”
“There is no doubt you or someone you know has used the phrase ‘Catch up on sleep’ with the idea being that resting additionally will make up for rest you missed in the past, “ says David Culpepper, MD, Clinical Director of LifeMD. “The bad news is that this idea holds no water. The worse news is that if you oversleep, you’re going to bring additional confusion to your rest patterns.”
Some people in the know refer to the general tiredness that creeps up on everyone throughout the day as “sleep debt.” When you accumulate enough of this debt, your body is ready to fall asleep as naturally as possible. But, when you nap in the middle of the day, you’re eliminating that debt entirely. Later that night you will feel the effects of this when you cannot fall asleep despite your best efforts. Cody Candee, Founder and CEO of Bounce backed this up, “Lack of sleep has been talked about enough to where we’re all tired of it. This is why I’d like to point out that too much sleep has just as many downsides.”
Create a Schedule and Stick to It
Have you ever asked someone for the time and then immediately followed it up with a suspiciously accurate guess for what time it is? This is your body’s internal clock at work. You and your body have an unspoken agreement surrounding time – so long as you rest regularly and do so at roughly the same hours, you’re going to be fully rested and mentally clear. Without any further communication, your body has an idea of what time it is and what activities correspond with that time. But the only way this clock can stay on time is if it finds rest and a consistent time each day.
“So many people let the activities of their life dictate when and how much sleep happens. This approach is just going to leave you falling asleep at your desk,” says Jason Panzer, President of HexClad. “Block out eight hours for sleep and then fill in the remaining empty space. It’s the only way to be well.”
Practically speaking, the idea of an internal clock means that it is possible for you to train your body to be ready for sleep and to wake up at specific times. It only takes a little intentionality as Staci Brinkman, Founder and CEO of Sips by summarized what you should do, “The people who do not go to sleep at the same time every night are the ones who struggle the most with exhaustion throughout their day. I know it’s not the easiest thing but try to plan the end of your day as a funnel towards your bed. That way, you end up there at the same time each night.”
The long and the short of it is, there are numerous sleep habits you should be considering. With a plan in place, achieving wellness through this avenue is much more achievable. Actress Amy Poehler put it best, “Sleep helps you win at life.”