Sleep is definitely among the most significant factors for maximum performance, productivity, mood regulation, memory and immune function. Sadly, the pace and information overload of this modern generation can easily challenge sleep quality, which results in the deterioration of people’s cognitive function and health.
People’s greatest intentions to catch up on the lack of sleep can only lead to incoherent patterns of sleep. This is not a healthy situation to be in. Two hours less of sleep tonight is not equivalent to extra two hours tomorrow.
The best-selling author and cognitive psychologist Daniel J. Levitin said that no one can make up for lost sleep. His work investigates the latest advances in brain science and how leaders in the I.T era stand out. His book entitled The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload successfully explains the importance of sleep as well as the cost of sleep deprivation.
Today, the idea that folks can adjust to chronic sleep loss with no negative impact on brain function is no longer true. In 2013, sleep deprivation was declared as a public health epidemic by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
You should understand that not all sleep is equal. Recovery sleep is defined by abnormal brain waves as the brain tries to “resynchronize” with the circadian rhythm of the body. A mild sleep change or reduction can produce harmful effects on cognitive performance for several days afterward.
Maybe you are not well aware that lack of sleep leads to stress, premature aging, infertility, hormonal imbalances, lowered immune function, hair loss, and weight gain.
Hormonal problems that cause sleep disorders don’t just start at bedtime, and they cannot be resolved by just dealing with them at this time. Have you ever observed that unlike humans, animals do not have any problem sleeping and waking just when they suppose to? Outdoor animals do not need sleeping pills to help them do so, but indoor pets could possibly have some troubles like humans do.
Appropriate sleep hormone production (melatonin) depends on the proper hormone function through the waking hours. The endocrine system is a whole system, hormonal imbalances like PCOS and endometriosis can usually lead to the lack of sleep and vice versa.
Stress hormones can bear an enormous effect on the sleep cycle as well. This is a 2-way street. Sleep loss promotes stress hormones, and these hormones can lead to sleep disorders.
These are the 5 best ways to enhance sleep quality and brain function.
1. Have A Healthy Sleeping Habit
Everyone has its own sleep cycle. Some people can fall asleep as soon as their heads hit the pillow, while others may take an hour or more. You must understand that there are specific requirements. In general, children are required to have 10 to 12 hours, 8 to 9 hours for teenagers and 6 to 10 hours daily for adults.
Usually, the deeper, restorative sleep happens during the first two hours and the very last ninety minutes of sleep. If the very precious 90-minute window of deeper rapid eye movement or REM sleep never occurs or is interrupted, sleep loss causes memory loss.
Great sleep habits lead to quality nighttime sleep and total daytime attentiveness. This is also referred as sleep hygiene, which you can achieve once you have a constant routine. You have to maintain a consistent “wake-and-sleep” pattern every single day.
2. Achieve the Right Sleep Posture
Absolutely, your posture is crucial even when you are sleeping. When you lie on your back or side, it allows your spine, head, and neck to loosen up into their natural alignment. Avoid doing stomach sleeping because it only puts stress on your spine. It is discouraged for those who are experiencing neck or back pain.
If you are lying on your back, place a pillow under your knees. This will eliminate the pressure off the lower back. Back sleeping is bad because it will only lead to snoring and affects the sleep quality of your partner. If that is really a big problem you are causing, try to roll on your side. Make sure to position your head, neck, and shoulders are in line with your spine.
Choosing what pillow is best for you might post some challenges. Picking the wrong pillow may worsen neck pain, headaches, and numbness or discomfort of the arms and shoulders.
If you are a back sleeper, choose thinner pillows so that your head will not be thrown too far forward. There are great benefits using cervical pillows with added loft in the bottom part, this will cradle your neck.
For side sleepers, a firmer pillow is the best choice. This will help fill the space between your ear and the outside of your shoulder. Also, your body shape and size, as well as sleep habits, are huge factors in selecting the best pillow. There is a need for you to replace your pillows after a couple of years because they usually wear out.
Also, it is very important that you have a very comfortable and supportive mattress. Pick something that is flexible to adapt to the shape of your body while giving firm support to your spine. It is suggested that you change your mattress every eight to twelve years.
3. Consume Food That Naturally Improves Sleeping
Food, in general, can affect your help, especially your sleep quality. There are numerous kinds of foods that you can eat to help you improve your chances of getting quality sleep.
Healthy fats present in eggs, coconut oil, and butter give your body with all the important building blocks to produce sleep hormones. High nutrient fruits, vegetables, and herbal teas are great antioxidants. They are important in the production of hormones and elimination of toxins. Just remember that you should drink green tea early in the day.
Stop eating at least four hours (preferably by 6:00 pm) before your bedtime if you wish to have a better sleep. Your dinner should have vegetables, healthy fats and proteins. Sufficient amount of protein in your evening meal helps prepare your body to go to the sleep cycle.
Please avoid carbohydrates and sugars, particularly at night because they can lead to a blood sugar spike and crash. This can cause some difficulties falling and staying asleep. Lots of people long for carbohydrates at night, which is a clear symptom of an underlying hormonal problem.
To some people, grains can have negative effects on their health. Those who have grain intolerance experience physical stress, which change the hormonal cycle and can obstruct sleep.
It might be surprising to you, but you have to avoid vegetable oils. These artificial fats cause issues in the new skin formation and then lead to problems in the hormonal cycle. Our hormones need saturated fats to produce, and giving the body incorrect types of building blocks can cause a lot of trouble with hormone production.
4. Take Natural Supplements
Unluckily, it is usually hard to get adequate nutrients from foods, especially when they harvested before they are ripe so they can be transported around the globe. If you are dealing with health problems or suffering from sleep disorders, it is a lot helpful to take some supplements. These supplements contain key nutrients and help strengthen your body.
Consider taking high vitamin butter oil blend or fermented cod liver oil. You can take any of them in the morning and in the evening (1/2 teaspoon every time). The presence of omega-3s and fat-soluble vitamins A, D, and K explains why these supplements can help improve sleep. Also, it can balance others hormone that causes infertility and other problems.
Moreover, a few tablespoons of coconut oil added in a cup of herbal tea every day gives the human body building blocks to manufacture sleep hormones. Many people have the magnesium deficiency and this can impact sleep quality. Some solve this by taking some products half an hour before bedtime.
There are some types of herbs that can help you fall asleep faster. You can try some catnip, chamomile or sleep tincture to help you relax.
5. Have A Healthy And Active Daily Habit
Your daily routine makes a huge difference in how simply you can fall and stay sleeping. You can do little experiments to discover what works best for you.
Start your day and sleep at the same time, even on weekends. This will keep your hormone cycle good and regular. Also, you can consume a high fat or high protein snack some hours before going to bed, ideally by 7:00 pm or earlier. You should not take caffeine later than 1:00 pm.
It’s also a great idea to install F.lux, which is free on all computers and other devices. This reduces blue light and helps you have a great sleep. Drink sufficient quantity of water during daytime and avoid drinking approximately two hours before going to bed so you do not have to wake up to use the toilet.
Getting sunlight for at least half an hour daily is very important. The light exposure during the day enhances serotonin levels, which improves levels of melatonin at night. Get rid of artificial lights after the sun sets.
Meditation and prayer lessen stress and have calming effects. If you have a budget, have a massage before bedtime to release all your stress. Also, do some stretching before going to bed to relax up your muscles.
Most importantly, associate your bed and bedroom with sleep. It’s never a smart idea to use your bedroom to surf the Internet, watch T.V or read a book.