After a good night’s sleep, we wake up feeling relaxed and rejuvenated to tackle the day’s activities. Unfortunately, due to the hustle and bustle of modern life, not many people get to enjoy enough sleep. An adult requires 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night for optimal productivity during the day. Read on to learn how sleep helps relax the body, the importance of a regular sleeping schedule, and more sleeping tips.
A regular sleeping schedule
It is not all about adequate sleep, but also a regular sleeping schedule. You should sleep at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning. Irregular sleeping hours will have an adverse impact on your productivity. Learn how much sleep you need, and create a sleeping schedule taking into account your work schedule to avoid oversleeping.
With a regular sleeping schedule, you will find that after some time you will not have sleeping issues as the body will have adjusted accordingly.
How sleep helps you relax
Sleep helps you relax in the following three ways:
Sleep refreshes the brain
According to research by R. Douglas Fields, of the National Institutes of Child Health and Development in Bethesda, when we are asleep, neural signals travel in reverse in the hippocampus region (the section of the brain responsible for memories). The reverse neural activity “edits” the brain cells such that what you learned the previous day sticks.
The study is very practical. Remember how fatigued you feel after a day’s work. At this time, you are hardly able to process any new information. But after sleeping, your brain cells are “reset”, and you can process another batch of information.
Sleep relaxes the muscles
According to the National Sleep Foundation, sleep occurs in stages. The most important stage is the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) stage – during this stage, the eyes dart back and forth. Dreams occur during this stage. During this stage;
- Sufficient energy is provided to the brain and body
- The body is immobile and muscles relaxed
When the body is stationary, the muscles relax thus relieving the buildup of tension. Just the way the brain needs resetting, the body and muscles also need a break, and sleep is the best way of providing it.
Sleep relieves stress
The relationship between sleep and stress is two-fold. Lack of sleep leads to stress buildup, and stress causes sleeping disorders. The insistence on productivity, in the corporate world especially, leads to long working hours. These long working hours translate to sleep deprivation, and consequently the build-up of stress.
According to Dr. Raymonde Jean, a sleep specialist at St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital Center in New York, sleep decreases stress levels in human beings. According to WebMD, a sleep deprived person is irritable and is more likely to get angry (agitation and irritability are signs of stress). Aside from relaxing the body and mind, sleep reduces high blood pressure, and cholesterol levels, which are known consequences of stress.
Tips for enjoying a good night of sleep
- Eat 1 to 2 hours before sleep – digestive activity can cause sleeping problems.
- Avoid taking stimulants such as nicotine and caffeine before sleeping.
- Engage in relaxing activity such as listening to soft music, and reading a book, instead of engaging activity such as watching TV an hour or two before bedtime.
- Do not go to bed angry or anxious. Meditation and other stress relief activities will help here.
I cannot stress enough the importance of sleep. But we don’t just need enough sleep, we need a regular sleeping schedule to stay relaxed, de-stressed and to benefit from a sense of wellness.
Bio: Sarah is the Editor of Sleepy Deep. Feeling the repercussions of being an irregular sleeper for far too long, she decided to do something about it. She learned why sleep is so important and how to maximize it, and is now helping others who are struggling to find their right sleep routine.