We spend nearly one third of our lives in a state of unconsciousness. It seems like a very unproductive time…you aren’t able to study, exercise, or check things off your to do list. However, what can feel like wasted time to your mind is, in reality, the most constructive phase for nearly every major body system!
While in slumber, your hard working body is ramping up to strengthen your immune system, improve your memory, sharpen your skills, and lengthen your life. That time you spend in dream land is an actual treasure trove of regenerative possibility.
Every time you sleep, your body goes through a major detox. The flow of cerebrospinal fluid, the liquid that protects your brain and spinal cord, increases dramatically and conducts the ultimate cleanse. Toxins and harmful chemicals are washed away from your brain, offering a powerful protective process that you get to experience every day.
Getting the ideal amount of sleep (7-9 hours a night) improves your health, mood, productivity, performance, brain function, and significantly lowers your risk of disease and injury. Not a bad deal, is it? Though it all sounds dreamy, when it comes to actually getting those coveted hours, many women find themselves struggling.
Women experience sleep disturbances more frequently than men, especially during times of hormonal change like menstruation and menopause. Studies show that when women lose sleep (as in, get 6 hours or less a night), they are more likely to suffer health consequences like weaker bones, more stress and anxiety, and increased risk of obesity, cardiovascular disease, stroke, chronic pain…you get the idea.
There are known factors that affect sleep quality in women. Lifestyle and behavioral aspects that can negatively impact sleep include lack of physical activity, work stress, caffeine, alcohol, pain, and mental health disorders. Other interrupters include temperature, diet, and that pesky blue light from your phone. Yes, there’s a lot that can impact the condition of your shut-eye.
Now for what you’re really here for: how to improve your sleep quality. Try to expose yourself to bright natural light, especially in the morning. Stay physically active and incorporate regular fitness into your day. In the evening, keep the lights dim and the bedroom cool (the golden temperature range is 60-67 degrees). Beware! Alcohol consumption and eating too close to bedtime can make you restless during sleep.
Next time you prepare to hit the hay, consider this easy and relaxing rhythm to glow up your sleep quality:
- Trade off nighttime TV shows for reading by lamplight.
- Abstain from phone scrolling after dark – try charging your phone across the room.
- Pause eating after 7pm until morning.
- Choose a sleep-promoting tea (like valerian root) as your preferred nighttime tonic.
- Diffuse lavender oil.
- Trouble drifting off? Use a meditative sleep cast on your favorite sleep app.
If you really want to crank out those Z’s, make the above suggestions a habitual addition to your evening routine. Consider addressing pain or mental health issues by speaking with an appropriate provider.
Sleep is multifaceted, as are the factors that both influence it and are influenced by it. When you let the knowledge that sleep is an elastic experience empower you, you can both sleep to live well and live to sleep well!