Are You Losing the Snooze Sweepstakes?

Post 55 Snooze
Photo by Joana Coccarelli

Snooze Sweepstakes? What in the world is that? Well, it’s a daily contest we are all entered in for life where you can win or lose depending on how you play. If you haven’t guessed by now, it has to do with sleep, specifically, the amount and quality of the sleep you are getting.

I have written much about sleep, but felt compelled to do it again because I have been talking to WAY too many people who tell me that they think sleep is not so important. I’ve heard everything from, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” to “I don’t have time to sleep”. Ugh! I hope that this is not you!

Why do we even need it? Sleep is right up there with, well, breathing!

For one thing, your brain works best when you are well-rested. When you sleep well, it promotes better learning and intellectual performance the next day. Yup, it definitely helps you get your “Einstein” on. For another, studies have shown that sleep is also necessary for a strong immune system and that poor sleep could weaken your immune systems’ ability to keep you well. And then there’s melatonin which is a hormone produced in response to darkness and during sleep. It is crucial because it helps you get a good night’s rest.

Inadequate sleep has been linked with all kind of baddies like faster aging of the brain, overeating, obesity, elevated cholesterol, increased risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, and even death from all causes. Yikes! Oh, and poor sleep can also have an aging effect on your appearance. No amount of beauty cream will work here!

How do you go about getting enough, high quality sleep? Here are some tips to help you on your way to winning the Snooze Sweepstakes:

Ditch the electronic devices at night

Read a good book before bed instead of watching TV. Electronics like televisions and tablets emit blue light which will suppress melatonin production and disrupt sleep. Try to turn them off at least one hour before you hit the sack.

Sleep in the dark

Watch out for things that light up your bedroom like clocks that emit light or even night lights. If that’s not practical, consider using a sleep mask (I love mine!) which will reduce exposure to outside light and enhance your sleep quality. Studies have shown that light exposure at night is associated with an increased risk of cancer, most especially breast cancer!

Get on a schedule

Try to go to bed at the same time every night and get up around the same time every morning.

Get a “gentle” alarm clock

Try not to use alarm clocks that wake you up abruptly with loud music or a shrill noise. Instead, find one that will wake you gradually with gentle sounds that slowly increase in volume. Better yet, ditch the clock if you can and try to wake naturally. As it gets light outside, your body begins reducing melatonin and increases cortisol, which helps you to wake up.

Mask the noise

Noise can be disruptive to sleep depending on the individual. If that’s you, earplugs or even “white noise” from something like a ceiling fan, for example, may help. Personally, I love my earplugs!

Watch the alcohol and caffeine

Alcohol may make you fall asleep more quickly, but the quality of your sleep will suffer. Caffeine will also disrupt sleep, so be careful about consuming it in the evening. And it’s not just coffee to be concerned about. If you drink soda (and I hope you don’t!) or even have some chocolate, you could be getting caffeine that can affect your sleep.

Sleep at a cooler temperature

Sleeping in a warm room (above 75°F) may disrupt sleep.

I hope these tips help you on the road to better sleep. To your good health!

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