Sleep: Important For Your Health!
Whatever age, race, or background we are, something we all have in common is the need for sleep. The amount needed varies from person to person and changes throughout our life, but sleep is essential to our health and well-being!
An infant may sleep two-thirds of the day, whereas an adult may only need 7-9 hours of sleep a night. Even 7-9 hours is a wide range though, so why the variation? Well, that depends on you.
When it comes to pinpointing a set amount of hours you need to sleep each night, you should assess how you feel on various amounts of rest. SleepFoundation.org uses the following questions as a simple self-assessment guide:
- Are you productive, healthy, and happy on seven hours of sleep? Or does it take you nine hours of quality ZZZs to get you into high gear?
- Do you have health issues such as being overweight?
- Are you experiencing sleep problems?
- Do you depend on caffeine to get you through the day?
- Do you feel sleepy when driving?
If you find yourself barely prying your body away from the mattress in the morning, struggling to focus and feeling overly sleepy through your day, slamming down the energy drinks just to “function”, or even laying awake restless at night, then be sure to read on—hopefully, this article will help you to have sweet dreams tonight!
Why Sleep is NOT “Just A Waste Of Time”
For many years a lot of people have viewed sleep as a time that you should spend being more productive. The thing is, when you’re sleeping at night, your body is being super productive!
Sleep is the time your body gets busy repairing and restoring various functions. This is also the time your body works on getting your hormone levels balanced.
The 2017 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to three U.S. biologists for their discovery of our “cellular clocks”. These work to control and maintain our biological homeostasis, regulating everything from our metabolism to psychological functioning.
You may have heard of the term “circadian rhythm”. It’s a natural, internal process that regulates your sleep-wake cycle—a clock inside your body that is running constantly in the background of your brain, cycling between sleepiness and alertness.
Each one of your organs has its own biological clock, with the “master clock” being located in your brain. This master timepiece synchronizes your cellular clocks and your bodily functions to match the 24 hour light and dark cycle.
Simply put: making your body skimp on sleep, can mess with your circadian clock, which may very well result in a whole bunch of health problems. Not to mention it raises your risk for errors and accidents.
Let’s Talk “Micro-sleeps”
When your body lacks the rest it needs, your brain decides it’s going to sleep anyway—whether you like it or not.
Micro-sleep is an involuntary episode that may last for a fraction of a second or even up to two minutes long. During these manifestations of sleep deprivation, you fail to respond to sensory input, literally becoming unconscious. It’s your brains’ way of making sure it gets a moment’s rest.
These may be recognized by blank stares, drooping eyelids, and head nods. Typically you’ll be unaware your brain is causing you to do this. If you’re on the sofa watching TV and this occurs, that may be no big deal. However, if you’re micro sleeping when you’re driving down the highway, this lapse in consciousness can create a very dangerous situation.
During micro-sleep, parts of your brain are going “offline” for a few seconds at a time. Many people can, and do, still, perform tasks. It’s just as if they’re in a type of auto-pilot mode. The degree of hazards this presents depends on how long of a micro-sleep your brain decides to take and what activity you’re now dangerously zoning out on.
So what can you do to help your brain avoid napping at random points throughout your day? Get enough quality rest at night.
Why Quality Sleep Matters So Much
Besides unconsciously dozing off and putting yourself (or a van full of loved ones) in harm’s way, there are a lot of other reasons to get enough sleep at night. Your body’s master clock is always running and when you don’t schedule yourself enough time for proper rest, your circadian rhythm gets upset. Unfortunately, those results can cascade through your body causing a wide range of health problems and body issues.
Some of the increased risks and dangers lack of sleep may present are:
- Slowed reaction time and cognitive impairment
- Weakened immune system
- Premature aging
- Weight gain and obesity
- Impaired memory and reduced ability to learn
- High blood pressure, heart attacks, and cardiovascular disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- Impaired sexual function
- Emotional intensity and volatility
- Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
- Hormone imbalance
- Susceptibility to stomach ulcers
- Reduced athletic performance
- Anxiety and depression
It’s true for all of us, some nights are just plain sleepless. And unfortunately when they are, that most likely means the next day is going to feel long, tiring, and leaving you kind of “out of sorts”, with an immune system that’s likely fighting harder just to keep defenders away.
It may have been a heavy thunderstorm that woke you. The baby who sleeps while you’re out working, but not at night. The inconsiderate neighbors partying too late into the night, or maybe your mind simply not letting today’s stress and tomorrow’s tasks go for the night.
Whatever the reason, you certainly don’t need to lose more sleep worrying about what the lack of shut-eye is doing to you at the moment. The key is getting quality rest the majority of the time. When you deal with the occasional sleepless night, just be sure to work on giving your body the boost it needs the next day in a healthful way.
Getting Through A Tired Day
If your day’s responsibilities don’t grant you the indulgence of sleeping in, try to get out of bed and force yourself to smile. Yes, it may be hard to leave your mattress and cozy blankets behind, but a smile may trick your body into thinking you’re in a good mood and feeling well. It could also help you put on a positive mindset for the day.
Stay hydrated! It’s important to give your body the water that it needs, which can help boost alertness. If you add in some citrus slices that may offer an additional perk-up. On top of fresh flavor, lemons and limes also provide nutrients and hopefully keep you far away from sugary drinks.
If you need caffeine, go green. Matcha is a green tea and our Wild Matcha powder is made from the entire tea leaf. This means getting 100% of the leaf’s nutrition (which especially can help your body running with potentially lower immunity after the loss of sleep).
Drinking green tea like this offers your body caffeine in a form that is released into the bloodstream slowly, providing a healthy and sustained boost of energy for mental focus and clarity!
Another great pick-me-up is chocolate! (Who can argue it’s a good idea to try this, right?) Our Wild Sweet Nibs make a great snack when you’re looking for a healthy, yet satisfying treat. They contain no preservatives, artificial sweeteners, or the other junk found in typical candy bars. Plus, Wild Sweet Nibs have naturally occurring theobromine, a powerful mental enhancing and crash-less energy booster similar to caffeine.
MCT’s are medium-chain triglycerides and we talk a lot about their importance here at Wild Foods. They play a vital role in cognitive function and are beneficial for a variety of health issues and bodily operations. (You can read about them in detail in our Wild Guide To MCT Oil.) Especially on the days, you’re running around feeling extra frazzled, MCTs can help you get through the day.
One delicious way to enjoy these healthy, saturated fatty acids is a scoop of Wild Coconut Butter. It is packed with lauric acid and medium-chain triglycerides, giving your body fuel to power through the day. This can be blended into your smoothies or simply enjoyed right out of the jar.
Make a little time for exercise. Even if it’s just a brief walk outdoors on a lunch break. It boosts your circulation and increases oxygen supply. This could result in some much-needed energy, Vitamin D exposure—thanks to the sunlight (which can also help your internal clock), and reduction of muscle tension, stress, and anxiety.
Be patient with yourself, and others too, on a day you are extra fatigued. It’s much more likely you’ll lack concentration or ability to easily grasp instructions, and this can only lead to further frustrations. Realize you may be running on a “short fuse” and try to keep that in mind so that you don’t rudely “snap” at a co-worker, employee, child, or significant other. Keep things in perspective—it’s just a tired, bad day, not a bad life.
Time For Sweet Dreams
You’ve made it through the day. Now you’re no doubt even more fatigued and ready for bed. How can you better ensure tonight’s sleep will be restful?
Try to set a regular bedtime and stick to it. Our bodies crave consistency and if you schedule out the time to go to bed each night, you’re more likely to do so. Whatever time you pick as your “bedtime”, work hard to not let other non-essentials interfere. No, you don’t need to check your social post one more time. Yes, that e-mail reply can wait until tomorrow.
Resist the caffeine. It may be tempting to have that late afternoon or evening cup of joe, but if you’re running into frequent sleepless nights, it’d be worth reconsidering how late you’re consuming those cups of coffee. Try to resist caffeine in the six to eight hours before bedtime range and see if that helps your body naturally rest easier.
Calm with chamomile. Hot tea has been used the world over as a soothing calm—and that especially can be said for chamomile. Our Wild Tea #10 Egyptian Chamomile Flower is a powerful tool for promoting sleep. Simply brew some of these delicate little flowers up in hot water and sip yourself into sleepiness.
Destress before you rest. Taking a hot shower or soaking in a hot Epsom salt bath can be quite relaxing after an exhausting day. When your body temperature is raised late in the evening, it will fall at bedtime, which can make getting to sleep when you go to bed easier.
Make your bed your “sleep zone”. It’s not the spot you should watch TV, work, or pay bills in. When you do so, your brain is trained to just think of it as another room of your house, and not the restful location it needs to be considered. Your bed is the place you go to sleep.
Avoid bright lights and blue light devices. Our electronics are thieves of our tranquility. If we’re not checking constant updates, we’re answering texts and calls, sending out e-mails, or online shopping for the printer ink we forgot to buy earlier.
There’s no doubt technology and our devices have a place in our lives, but when it comes to evening hours, that’s not it. Use an app or your device’s built-in settings to filter out the blue light, especially at nighttime.
This can offer help in avoiding the disruption of hormones and your natural melatonin levels. Better yet, just set all of the electronic devices aside a couple of hours before bed. If you’re bored, read a physical book or write a bit in a journal. Focusing on 3-5 things you’re thankful for each day before you drift off to sleep can have a positive effect on your mind and emotions.
Choose the ideal temperature. It’s been said that keeping your room between 60 to 67 degrees F can aid in a better night’s rest. Some people prefer to have a fan running for air circulation, which may also help avoid a stagnant space as you spend hours snoozing. Plus it offers a bit of background noise which many find lulls them off to dreamland.
Cuddle up with a cup of Cocotropic. Not only is it incredibly delicious and satisfying, but our Wild Superfood Elixir Cocotropic is also an amazing blend of adaptogenic super herbs known for general relaxation and immune support. Plus the warm mug of naturally non-sweetened cocoa goodness puts a smile on your face for happy dreaming.
Keep electronics away from your bed. Electronic devices, cellphones, and even alarm clocks should be preferably a few feet away from you and your mattress. Even if you’re turning your phone on a “do not disturb” setting at night, it still pings cell towers and sends EMFs (invisible electromagnetic energy fields) through your room all night long. This can result in disturbed sleep patterns and restlessness. Keep them away from your bed and let your body have a break to recharge itself. Go to the bathroom right before you go to sleep. Hopefully, you’re already in the bathroom brushing your teeth, but if you can go to the bathroom too, this helps reduce the chances you’ll wake up to go in the middle of the night. Shut off the lights. Sleeping in a dark environment can help immensely when it comes to getting a good night’s rest. Whether it’s a night light or even just the light from an alarm clock screen, these all too often disrupt your internal clock. That means they can interfere with your hormones and neurotransmitters—like melatonin and serotonin. So when it’s “light’s out”, make sure it truly is. Breathe deep. So you’re laying down now, but your mind is racing? Take some deep breaths. There are a lot of methods and counts deep breathing can be done in, but don’t complicate it. You’ve been breathing since birth, so just give deep breathing a try and count a few seconds out between your breaths. It gives your mind something to focus on as you alter the depth and speed of your breathing. It’s like a natural “tranquilizer” for your nerves and can be a powerful remedy to aid in calming anxiety. Here’s a Wild video on 4 Hacks To Help You Sleep Better and Fall Asleep Faster!
There’s no doubt restful sleep and the right amount of hours each night can help our health and offer our bodies the healing support they need. Hopefully, with these ideas, you’ll be able to limit the hours you spend awake counting sheep and start calmly dreaming, waking up refreshed and ready to take on the Wildest adventures!
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