Today, I am happy to bring you a guest article from Hannah Rose. Hannah is the lead editor at Sleep Kozy. Like her fellow colleagues, she is passionate about sleep and wants to do what she can to help the world sleep better. Learn more about how you can improve your sleep at SleepKozy.com.
Introduction: A Little About Sleep
Sleep is one of the most important thing we can do for ourselves. We need it every day to help us become ready for the next day. Without it, we can become ineffective. A lack of sleep can cause us to forget things frequently, react slower, and feel exhausted. At least, until we catch up on our sleep. But do we want to live a life where we are always playing catch up?
We sleep one-third of our lives. Our body does this so we can live the remaining two-thirds in a healthier and happier way. What if we can get better at sleeping? What if the one-third of your life spent sleeping is the best thing ever? How great might your other two-third of your life become?
Why Sleep Matters
Sleep gives us the rest we need to go after our day-to-day activities. Whether you’re chasing a dream, enjoying your time with loved ones, or doing what you do well, sleep enables us to be at our peak performance. This means being mentally, emotionally, and physically fit for the day. Let’s take a quick glance at these 3 aspects to our health and sleep:
Sleep helps us clear our brains and rest it up for the day after. During our sleep, our brain sorts our memories of the day. They get archived from short-term to long-term memory. Losing sleep affects how well we remember old memories while making it difficult to do so at all.
Poor sleep also affects out well we perform mentally when we need to think critically. In addition, losing sleep makes it more difficult to learn and focus productively.
Sleep helps us recover our willpower. It makes us less susceptible to impulsivity, where the inner monkey side of us can call the shots to do things that might not truly help us be happier.
For example, resting well makes us less prone to eating junk food and snacking more. Our body makes us for our exhaustion by craving extra yummy calories. When we sleep well, we have more control over our impulsiveness and won’t need to eat junk.
Physically, our body uses sleep time to recover. As part of our sleep biological process, muscles grow and damaged tissues repair themselves. Without sleep, these processes aren’t as effective. Taking care of our sleep means we become stronger and faster physically.
Why Bother With Optimizing My Sleep?
There are a lot of best practices we can do to sleep well. Known as sleep hygiene, these practices help us sleep better and more effectively. When we throw them out the window, it’s a surefire way of losing sleep real quickly.
How Easy Is It For Us To Lose Sleep?
It can be as easy as tonight, when you stay up an extra hour watching the season finale of the game of thrones. Or trying to sleep when you’re uncomfortable. We can also make sleep difficult by turning your sleep environment into a hot, bright, and noisy place.
Even if we don’t intentionally sabotage our sleep today, we might slowly do so. It might not be intentional at first. Sometimes there are deadlines we need to meet, our children we care for, and other important interruptions to our sleep that simple can’t wait.
Sleep debt creep can go undetected until our health and well-being declines. We don’t have to wait until something makes us realize something needs to change. Taking the occasional steps to optimize our sleep for efficiency can help us get back in touch with what it feels like to be well-rested and energized when we wake up.
How to Optimize Your Sleep
I wrote a comprehensive guide on how to optimize your sleep for efficiency. I highly recommend visiting it when you have the time. For now, let’s cover the basics:
The Goal of Sleep Optimization
To get the most out of our sleep each night. We do this through a trial-and-error process. There are 3 parts to the process: your personal considerations, sleep tracking, and the optimization process.
These 5 considerations help you adjust your expectations and get a fresh idea of where you are starting from today.
- What sleep or health issues you are facing? Do you have sleep apnea? Is stress at work keeping you up? Are worrying excessively about the future?
- How dependent you are on the big 3 substances: caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine? Can you reduce or eliminate them today?
- How much sleep debt have you accumulated? How much sleep are you losing each night?
- How well do you concentrate in your day-to-day activities? Are you focused and present?
- How are you are mentally and emotionally throughout the day?
Once you know where you are at, we can find out what our true sleep needs are.
How Much Sleep Do I Need?
Our sleep changes over time. Although adults shouldn’t be expecting too much shifting, sometimes the demands from our life and lifestyle can influence our sleep needs. You can find how much sleep you truly need by following 4 steps:
- Maintain a sleep diary. We want to know what times you sleep, how much, and how well.
- Take a sleep vacation. Resetting your sleep debt to zero might require time away from your life. Being able to catch up on sleep and track it in a sleep diary might bring up some valuable insights.
- Cut back on the Big 3 substances. That means no caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine (for now).
- Repeat steps 1 to 3 as long as you need. Ideally, for two weeks straight as a minimum.
Everybody’s sleep is different. One person’s sleep needs can be entirely different from another. Adults on average can sleep as little as 6 hours each day and still perform well. Others might need 10 hours. Finding out what is best for you can help you plan your day so you can prioritize your sleep effectively.
How to Optimize For Sleep
Once we know how much sleep we need, the last step is to begin optimization. Something thinking is required, but following these 5 steps can help you get the most out of your sleep each night:
- Commit to sleep. You need to take your sleep seriously before you can optimize it properly. Think about how it can benefit you and others if you slept better each night
- Keep finding how much sleep you need. Practice the 4 steps in the previous section as much time as you can.
- Practice good sleep hygiene. Your bedroom should be cool, dark, quiet, and comfortable. Used for sleep and sex only.
- Create and stick to a morning and evening routine. They help you frame your day and sleep. Checklists are fantastic for this.
- Revisit the guide from time to time. Sleep optimization isn’t a one-time thing. Sleep debt can creep up without warning.
These 5 steps will put you ahead of the curve for better sleep. They might seem simple and easy to do, but they’re also easy not to do.
We sleep for one-third of our lives for a good reason. Taking care of our sleep might make all the difference to a life well lived or one filled with fatigue.
Sleep can be a difficult thing, but it can be easier. Understanding how to optimize your sleep you be a skill that can help you for the rest of your life. What if you can get the most out of your sleep? How would your life improve for the better? Learning how to optimize for sleep efficiency, you can be your best self each day and do what you do best. Good luck with your sleep, and have a great night!
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