High quality sleep is critically important to our overall health and wellness because sleep gives the body a chance to rest and rejuvenate.
Muscles, bones, tendons and ligaments all rest and repair during sleep. The body's organs also rest during sleep, especially the brain.
If you look at all the major systems of the human body, they all rely on good quality sleep for optimal functioning.
Many of us go to bed early enough to allow six to-eight hours of quality sleep. But our sleep is often disturbed and we miss the most valuable part of our sleep, which is the deep or R.E.M. sleep (Rapid Eye Movement). R.E.M. sleep is one of the most important stages of sleep, but on many nights we don't get enough.
Here are some tips for deep, uninterrupted, high quality sleep:
- Make your bedroom as dark as possible, keep out the early morning light as this will prematurely waken you and disturb your quality sleep.
- Keep the room as quiet as possible by closing the bedroom doors and windows. Don’t let the noise of passing cars or a family member using the bathroom disturb your sleep.
- Try to stick to a sleep routine. That means go to bed at the same time and awake at the same time.
- Remove the bedroom phone or turn off the ringer during sleep time.
- Don’t take work material into the bedroom. Leave it at work.
- Don’t have electronic devices (cell phones, blackberry, lap tops) in the bedroom. This includes the TV. They are big sleep disturbers.
- Avoid nicotine, caffeine and alcohol three hours before bedtime. These are stimulants and prevent you from getting to sleep.
- Evaluate the quality of your mattress and pillows. The lifespan of a mattress is five to seven years; one year for a pillow.
- Don't eat anything for three hours before bedtime. Food will either delay you getting to sleep or prevent you from staying asleep. Food intake just before bed has been linked to nightmares too. Especially avoid caffeinated products like coffee, tea, chocolate and energy drinks. A full bladder is a big sleep disturber.
- Avoid alcohol three hours before sleep. Your body works extremely hard to process alcohol. You will notice when you wake up after alcohol consumption that you are mentally and physically exhausted.
- Pets need to have their own bed away from your bedroom. Keep pets as far from the bedroom as possible. Your beloved pet will get great quality sleep no matter where you put them but, when the cat and dog are moving around on your bed, your quality sleep is disturbed.
- You have to keep kids out of your bedroom and in their own sleeping arrangements. Kids roll, toss and turn and stick their two little feet into places they don’t belong. When you leave the kids in your bed and head to their bed or the couch, to sleep, that is not the answer. As soon as your kids arrive at your bedside at 3 a.m. wanting to get in, carry them back to their bed, get them to sleep and head back to your own bed. Soon enough they will stay put.
- Don't use the snooze button. This interrupts the most important part of your sleep — the last one-two hours before you wake up. You're much better off staying in your deep sleep as long as you can. Set the alarm as late as possible and as far from the bed as possible. When it goes off, get up and stay up.