Most of us know based on how we feel after a lousy sleep that sleep is pretty important. But many of us don’t realize just how important sleep is to recovery and general health. Studies suggest that over 80% of North Americans don’t get sufficient sleep which doesn’t bode well for those already worn down from stressful jobs, family life, or high intensity training programs. Continuous periods of bad sleep can potentially lead to inadequate cell regeneration (bad recovery), poor cognitive function, compromised immunity, high blood pressure, pre-diabetic risk factors, lower IQ and memory function, disrupted hormone balances, and increased mortality. Even for those with good intentions of trying to get more sleep, sleep doesn’t always come easily at the end of the day.
Studies suggest that over 80% of North Americans don’t get sufficient sleep.
The following are a few tips to try and get more sleep and ways to monitor whether or not you’re getting the quality sleep that you need;
- Sleep quantity should reflect our circadian rhythm in accordance to seasonal sunlight exposure. The less daylight there is, typically the more sleep that is required (i.e. more sleep in winter). In addition, a Vitamin D deficiency can be a major culprit in sleep disorders.
- Down-regulate brain activity at the end of the day with calming, easy to read books and try to use low light bulbs or candlelight. Exposure to artificial blue light from mobile devices/TV’s can disrupt human circadian patterns which enable good sleep.
- Look into supportive supplemental minerals that can help chemical pathways of sleep and support our nervous system (like natural salts rich with trace elements such as Himalayan/Aztec sea salts).
- Try 5-10 min of breathing meditation before bed to shut down our impulses to ‘race the mind’.
- Sleep quality is measured in adequate sleep cycles of NREM and REM sleep. Each phase in a cycle has specific functions. To help find out the quality of your sleep, apps like Sleep Time (a free app through iTunes) or programs on Fitbit and Jawbone can help gauge sleep cycles, total sleep and help deal with disrupted patterns.