Project Healthy Lifestyle: The Importance of Sleep
The first thing I’m going to work on, in my journey to a healthier lifestyle, is getting more sleep!
I have a really really bad habit of going to bed too late, which results in me not having very much energy to get through the day. Not only that, but it also makes me feel more stressed and it makes it more difficult to lose the weight I want to lose.
I’ve been thinking about why I have such a hard time getting to bed on time, and I think there are several factors that play into it.
- I tend to fall into a reading hole by the end of the night, usually on Tumblr or some similar site, and I HATE stopping in the middle of a chapter or story.
- I may suffer from a little bit of FOMO.
- I’ve always been a night owl.
- My creativity spikes after 8 pm.
Another problem is that I always have a book I’m reading after I’m in bed. It helps me calm down unless it’s a page-turner, and then I don’t want to put it down.
I get up each morning at around 7.15 am, and I usually get to bed at midnight. Then I read for maybe 30 minutes. Oh and of course I snooze for like 45 minutes, so my alarm is set to go off for the first time at 6.30 am. So let’s say it take me 10 minutes to fall asleep after I put the book down. So that means I get a little less than 6 hours of uninterrupted sleep.
Studies show that adults should be getting a minimum of 7 hours of uninterrupted sleep, so I fall a little short.
Why Sleep Is Important?
We’ve probably all heard that we should be getting 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night, but why is it so important?
The sleep cycle consists of 2 recurring phases, REM (Rapid Eye Movement) and NREM (Non-rapid Eye Movement). Of the two, the NREM phase occupies about 75-80% of total sleep.
During the NREM phases, our body starts repairing and growing tissue, our energy is restored, and hormones essential to growth and development is released.
REM sleep takes up 20-25% of our sleep. This is when we dream, and it’s essential to process emotions, memories, and stress. It’s also important for learning, as it stimulates the regions in the brain dealing with learning and developing new skills.
Those are just a few of the things that happen if we get enough sleep. Other benefits are:
- Sharper brain – It’s easier to remember details.
- It boosts your mood.
- Healthier heart – Your blood pressure goes down, which gives your heart and blood vessels a rest.
- Steadier blood sugar – You’re less likely to develop Type 2 diabetes.
- Fighting germs – If you’re tired, so is your immune system.
- Weight Control – A good night’s sleep means you’re less hungry.
So when we don’t get enough sleep, our bodies aren’t able to go through the necessary cycles it needs to reset, which means we start the day at a disadvantage.
If you don’t get enough sleep, you may have noticed that you feel more irritable, depressed and/or drowsy. You may also have noticed that you find it harder to retain information or making decisions. And you may find that you crave unhealthy foods more when you haven’t had enough sleep. That’s because lack of sleep messes with the hormones that control appetite.
What should I do?
As you can see above, sleep, or the lack of, has an influence on tons of physical and emotional areas. That’s why I’ve decided that getting enough sleep is going to be my first goal. If I get the 7 recommended hours, it will make is so much easier to reach my ultimate goal of having a healthier lifestyle.
As I know I’ll have a hard time not using the snooze button in the morning, the first thing I’m going to work on is going to bed earlier.
Over the next while, I’ll take small steps to improve my bedtime. I’ll start going to bed 15 minutes earlier than the day before until I reach my goal of getting 7 hours of uninterrupted sleep. That means that since I went to bed at midnight yesterday, today I’m going to be in my bed by 11.45.
I’ll also cut down on how long I read my book once I’m in bed. So, I read for 30 minutes yesterday. So today I’m only going to read for 25 minutes. Tomorrow I’ll read for 20 minutes and so on.
When I reach my goal of getting 7 hours of uninterrupted sleep, the next goal is to do that for a full week, and then a full month, and so on. This way I’m building a new habit, which is guaranteed to benefit me in the long run.
Do you want to work on getting more sleep?
Do you have a different strategy you want to try?
Or maybe you want to try out my strategy of taking small steps?
Let me know! Drop a comment!
Check back next week for more ideas for living a healthier lifestyle, and let’s do this together!