Why Is Sleep So Important?
I hate to overstate the obvious, but not getting enough sleep is a common complaint these days. How many times do you ask someone how they are, and the response is “tired”? I have said that many times myself, in fact, I would say I have chronic insomnia. Because of this, I have done a lot of reading about it lately and have pulled together some big reasons why sleep is so important and some tips for better sleep.
The Benefits of Sleep
- It isn’t called beauty sleep for no reason; your body goes into repair mode while you sleep. It produces hormones that combat the damage caused by sun exposure and stress. In many people, a lack of sleep results in puffy eyes and dark circles, but they do go away when the body is rested again.
- Sleep can keep you healthy and a tired body has more trouble fighting off colds. For many people sleep deprivation is a migraine trigger, too. Some studies even suggest that a tired body is more susceptible to heart disease and some cancers.
- A lack of sleep makes you gain weight. I remember hearing two things at college, the Freshman 10 or 15, and “food is a good substitute for sleep” which I now realize were related. Plus, when you’re tired, you’re less likely to want to exercise which can also contribute to weight gain.
- Better work or school performance is more likely if you are rested. According to Harvard, getting a good night’s sleep after learning something new means you will retain the information better. The same is true for working. I know in my case I pay attention better when I feel rested.
How to Get More Sleep
- Remove distractions from your bedroom. I’ve read many times that having a television in the bedroom is a bad idea, the same thing for smartphones and tablets. Focusing on electronics distracts your mind from tiredness.
- Try to maintain a consistent sleep/wake Your body thrives on routine, so even on the weekends you should stay as close to a regular schedule as possible.
- Make your room cold and dark. Dark is obvious, but science shows that your body cools down for sleep, so being in a cold room will help you fall asleep faster and sleep better.
- Avoid caffeine after noon or cut it out completely. Even for those of you (me included) who swear they can sleep after a cup of coffee; it does interrupt sleep patterns.
- Try meditation to relax your mind and body. I have mentioned the app Insight Timer in the past, it’s free to download and many of the recordings are free. Find one with a voice you that is soothing to you, there are many to choose from so it shouldn’t be too difficult.
- Try essential oils. While the science behind healing claims is still being debated, it’s no secret that there are specific scents that are relaxing, such as lavender. Put a dab on your pillowcase right before you get in bed. I’m a fan of this pillow spray to relax me.
Try Not to Worry
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