Health is multidimensional, so it's important to have multiple healthy habits rather than just one. For example, you may exercise regularly, but not getting enough quality sleep can negatively affect your exercise performance and overall health (and vice versa). Too often do we sacrifice our sleep to make time for other things, not realizing that in doing so, we are sacrificing much more.
Sleep deficiency is something we’ve all experienced, whether you’re going back to school, are working extended hours, or just consider yourself a night owl. Not only is creating a sleep schedule for yourself a great health habit, but it also promotes self discipline. Adults are recommended to get anywhere from 7-9 hours of sleep, and while that may seem like wasted time to those with busy schedules, it is vital for our overall well-being as sleep deficiency is linked to:
- Weight gain
- Increased Appetite
- Poor focus and concentration
- Chronic diseases (e.g. heart disease and type II diabetes)
- Weakened immune system
Creating a consistent sleep schedule can be difficult, let alone getting enough sleep. However, it only takes 21 consecutive days for a behavior to become a habit. Our bodies crave consistency, and by committing to a sleep schedule, you’ll notice the many ways in which your body will thank you.
To create a sleep schedule and improve your sleep quality, you must:
- Go to bed and wake up at the same time everyday (even on the weekends)
- Skip the snooze button
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol and eating large meals before bed
- Write down wandering thoughts so that they don’t distract you from falling asleep
- Go to bed as soon as you’re feeling tired and get out of bed if you're not tired
- Keep your room quiet, cool and dark
- Exercise and expose yourself to natural light as much as possible during the day
- Avoid artificial light in the evening (especially from computers, t.v., or your phone) so your body doesn’t think it’s time to be awake
- Practice relaxation techniques before bed such as reading, taking a warm bath, or getting a massage
Practicing relaxation techniques before bed is a great way to prepare your body for sleep. Massages, whether received during the day or at night, are especially helpful with improving sleep quality because they trigger the release of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps calm the body and relieve pain. Massages have also been proven to increase deep sleep by decreasing depression and anxiety, in both adults and children. We recommend making massages a part of your routine, at least once a month, to maintain tension and anxiety, and ensure good quality sleep at night.