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You already know that sleep is very important, but there's nothing like a good refresher, to make sure you put it at the top of your priority list. 😉
As you know, sleep is when your body does all of its healing and repairing. But that isn't just something you need if you get hurt.
Your body needs to repair your heart and blood vessels every single night. So that means if you don't get enough sleep, you could end up with a much higher risk of everything from heart disease to diabetes to strokes.
Also, sleep is the only time your body can perform many functions…everything from building muscle, to pruning neural pathways to help with your memory and learning.
But it's easy to explain why we need sleep…It's harder to tell people HOW exactly to get a good night's sleep when they're struggling to do so.
You already know that one of the worst things you can do is using your phone or watching TV too close to bedtime, or when you're already in bed. And you know that this is because the light messes with your sleep cycle. But there's actually a bit more to it than that!
Basically, devices like your phone, TV, laptop and tablets contain lots of short-wavelength blue light. And, even though it's called blue light, it's actually the same light you see when you look at the Sun. So that means looking at these electronics triggers the same idea in your brain that you get when you look at the Sun, that it's daylight…And this tells your brain to suppress melatonin, the sleep hormone.
Another thing you probably already knew is that you should avoid exercising right before bed. But I wanted to add that in here, because there's still some debate about this, and so I want to stress that it's just NOT a good idea — it raises your body temperature and also puts a slight stress on your nervous system, both of which make it difficult to fall asleep.
So if someone has told you it's okay, but you're having problems getting a good night's sleep, that's one of the first things to change.
But you probably already knew a lot of this, even if you didn't understand exactly why.
So now, for the tips on getting a good night's sleep that really blew my mind, that I don't think many people are aware of!!
For one thing, you really should be getting a new pillow every couple years. I know it sounds like I'm being a sponsor for some kind of pillow company right now, but not only do pillows easily get gross with skin flakes, germs, BO, etc. despite washing it…But also because pillows honestly don't have a long shelf life in terms of giving you the comfort and support you need for a good night's sleep.
Also, did you know there are different types of pillows marketed to different types of sleepers? Whether you sleep on your back, side, or stomach, you really should get a pillow designed for it! For example, if you're a side sleeper, you need to pay special attention to the alignment of your head, neck, and spine, and a memory foam pillow is great for that. Whereas, for those who sleep on their stomachs, a thinner pillow is actually better so their head isn't sticking up too high, again because spine alignment is important. And the exact opposite is true for back sleepers — a firmer, higher-up pillow is better to ensure that alignment.
But you want to know what the biggest sleep hack is? Stop having anxiety about lack of sleep!
I know I just listed above why sleep is so important, to try and get you to prioritize it, and to make sure you really do attempt to get that 8-hour block every night. But I find that a lot of people also get so anxious about the idea of losing sleep that it MAKES them lose sleep. They beat themselves up, whether that's during the day or at night. And a lot of people who either suffer from chronic insomnia, or are just worried about not getting a good night's sleep for one night, are constantly checking the clock.
So I would say one good tip is, stop checking the clock!! Whether that means keeping your phone further away than on your nightstand, or turning your digital clock around so you can't look at it…Do not check the time when you are trying to fall asleep!