Help Me Sleep Better Tonight!
Why do we need good sleep?
Most of us have wondered how we can improve sleep quality. We have ALL been told that it’s important to get a good night’s sleep; but how often have we’ve been told all why it’s important? Well, I am going to tell you right now; sleep is super important for your health. The more you know, the more likely you are going to take appropriate actions to improve your sleep quality.
Focus and Learning.
You probably remember how it feels to get up after a poor night’s sleep; your brain feels foggy and you just don’t feel as sharp minded. Better quality sleeps means that you are able to focus and learn new things. This is obviously important during your daily life but its also crucial for learning a new hobby, or when you are learning a new job. The ability to focus and retain information is priceless.
Sleep plays a major role in the consolidation of memories. The consolidation of memories is the process that makes memories mores stable and less likely to be changed over time as you gather new information and experiences.
Its looks as if sleep specifically plays a role in the enhancement part of memory consolidation. That is, it helps to restore lost memories and can add to previous learning without more practice. You can actually get better at something, and learn it more thoroughly by sleeping! This also indicates that staying up all night studying for an exam may be less effective than actually getting a good night’s sleep.
One study showed that adolescence had more negative emotions and worse mood after only a few nights of reduced sleep. So, if you are getting adequate amounts of sleep, you may be able to better regulate your negative emotions and have an overall better mood than if you were short on sleep. Sleep may help you be more pleasant to be around, your friends and coworkers may thank you for it.
People who get regular, high quality natural sleep are more productive at work and have less absenteeism. A study looking at sleep apnea, found a 20% lower rate of productivity and double the amount of sick leave lasting longer than 30 days in those affected.
This lack of productivity can also transfer to your life outside of work. What about that home project you wanted to start or your other interests? You are not going to be doing a lot of extracurricular activities when you are ill enough to need 30 days of sick leave at a time. Lack of sleep can really impact your paycheck and then the quality of your life outside work.
I believe that good health overall has everything to do with sleep quality, food quality, muscle mass, exercise, regular exposure to sunlight and nature, and feeling of belonging. All of that is more important than a number on a scale. That being said, most people in our society are looking to lose a few pounds whether its necessary or not.
Improve sleep quality to help you gain more control over your appetite because sleep deprivation effects the hormones that control hunger that can lead to overeating.
What Can I do to Help Me Sleep?
#1: Be careful of what you are ingesting to improve sleep quality.
Coffee and Caffeine
Did you know that caffeine can decrease the quantity and quality of your sleep? One study found that caffeinated coffee decreased the amount of melatonin produced. This is important because melatonin is the hormone that is secreted at night from our pituitary to help us get sleepy and fall asleep..
Another little known fact is that all caffeine is not created equal. Both coffee and tea contain caffeine and can cause increased alertness that can lead to poor sleep and a reduce in melatonin. It has been found that tea may have a lesser detrimental effect on sleep quality, so it pays to experiment with your caffeine of choice.
This study also demonstrates that day-long tea consumption produces similar alerting effects to coffee, despite lower caffeine levels, but is less likely to disrupt sleep. Other differences between tea and coffee were more subtle, and require further investigation.
There is a small amount of research that says multivitamins and B vitamins can decrease sleep quality. Additionally, there are plenty of anecdotal examples of B vitamins causing sleeplessness. This makes a lot of since when you understand that B vitamins take part in cellular processes that facilitate the creation of energy.
The fix for this is to take your multivitamins and B vitamins in the morning to improve sleep.
Many commonly used medications for heart conditions, asthma, thyroid and allergies can disrupt your sleep.
- Anti-arrhythmics (for heart rhythm problems)
- Beta blockers (for high blood pressure)
- Cough, cold, and flu medications that contain alcohol
- Headache and pain medications that contain caffeine
- Nicotine replacement products
- Sedating antihistamines (for colds and allergies)
- SSRIs (for depression or anxiety)
- Sympathomimetic stimulants (for attention deficit disorder)
- Theophylline (for asthma)
- Thyroid hormone (for hypothyroidism)
If you suspect that a medication is disrupting your sleep, talk to your doctor. They may be able to switch you to a different medication or suggest a different type of treatment altogether.
What you shouldn’t do is attempt to solve the problem on your own. Always discuss the situation in depth with your doctor first, and don’t stop taking the medication until you have decided on an alternative treatment with your provider. Otherwise, you may experience dangerous side effects (such as uncontrolled asthma, ADD, depression, or anxiety).
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