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Life today seems to move faster than it ever has. Every hour is consumed with so many tasks, it’s almost as though we never really rest.
Even when we lay down in our beds at night, the pace of the world around us intrudes, coupled with the stress of snoring, when we should be resting up for the next round with our fast-paced lives.
Your head hits the pillow and you think, “I’m tired. I can’t wait to sleep”. And just as that thought crosses your mind, others follow it.
“Did I lock the front door? Did I pay the electricity? What about that doctor’s appointment I have to take my Mum to? Are the kids really sleeping? I’m not looking forward to that meeting tomorrow!”
Even though we know we’re ready to sleep, we can’t seem to will ourselves into a state of relaxation that allows us to fall into the kind of sleep we need. Tense and anxious about the demands of our lives, we lay awake at night, counting worries instead of sheep; checking off items on our “to do” lists, instead of becoming one with our pillows.
Then there are the realities of living in the 21st Century that go beyond the pace of our modern lives. The incessant light, for example. Have you ever gone into the wilderness and slept in a tent? Have you ever spent the night in a rural inn, or farmhouse?
If you live pretty well anywhere in the world, though, artificial light is a constant reality. Street lights and the ambient light you find illuminating the night in any place humans live, are ubiquitous.
Then, there’s the noise. The world is ever in motion, as cars and trucks whiz down the roads and highways. Even if they’re off in the distance, you can still hear them. In major cities, add car alarms and the hum of transformers and other white noise.
It’s never quiet.
It’s never dark.
You can’t turn it off and you can’t turn your mind off, either.
How on earth is one to get a decent night’s sleep?
The human animal needs, for optimal functioning, Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep. This is the kind of sleep typified (as the name suggests) by rapid movement of the eyes under the lids, colourful and vivid dreams and extreme relaxation in the muscles of the body.
REM sleep normally accounts for approximately 20% of the total sleep cycle. While we all get it, even if we’re suffering from sleep disturbances, it’s possible we aren’t getting nearly as much as we need due to this problem.
Let’s explore the world of sleep together, talk about some common challenges and then walk through effective solutions to the problem.
Before we can get to understand how to improve your sleep, it is very important that we ask ourselves this important question; how do you stand to benefit when you get enough sleep? In simple terms; what’s in it for you when you get enough sleep?
The Benefits Of Getting A Full Night’s Sleep
With all of this talk about how to sleep better, you might be wondering what exactly makes sleep so special. After all, isn’t remaining conscious for a few more hours per night beneficial?
You may think that sleeping less would allow you to do a great many things with your life as you would finally have time on your side. However, sleep has a number of benefits.
1. It Boosts Happiness
Now that safety and food are no longer a major concern for most people, we have started to focus on more abstract desires and needs, such as the need to be happy.
Many people are unhappy these days. We work more than we do anything else; everything is a race and the way the world is run induces a constant sense of hunger so that we consume as much as possible. It is fair to say that the average person right now is quite miserable.
However, there is a major reason that people are unhappy that has nothing to do with any of those things: we are not getting enough sleep.
Sleep is where we deal with the emotional issues that we cannot deal with in our waking state. Dreaming allows us to rationalize our fears and desires; it allows us to get over our frustrations.
Sleeping also helps your body repair itself. If your body doesn’t get enough rest, it will end up getting damaged and causing you pain. Lack of sleep also makes it difficult for your brain to regulate itself, thereby resulting in an imbalance that can affect your mood.
In fact, research has shown that lack of sleep affects mood even more than low income.
2. It Makes Sex More Fun
Sleep is one of the most important processes that your body goes through. While sleeping, one of the most important activities that the body is able to conduct is the regulation of hormone levels within the bloodstream.
One of the hormones that it regulates is testosterone and its female counterpart oestrogen. These hormones are primarily responsible for sex drive. If your body is healthy and is maintaining the secretion of these hormones, you should have a normal sex drive and should enjoy sex.
Not getting enough sleep, on the other hand, means that you are going to have fluctuating levels of testosterone or oestrogen in your body. The most immediately noticeable result of this is a sudden drop in sex drive.
Not getting enough sleep also results in a number of other sexual dysfunctions as well. Erectile dysfunction is quite common among people who don’t get enough sleep, for example.
By getting enough sleep, on the other hand, your body will be completely healthy and ready to have sex, and since your body is chemically balanced the sex is going to feel a lot better too.
3. It Helps you Get Buff
It may seem odd, but by sleeping right you are actually going to make it a lot easier to get muscular. This has a lot to do with what your body does while your brain is asleep.
While you are asleep, one of the most important processes that is going on within your body is the repairing of your muscles.
Over the course of the day, your muscles invariably get damaged in one way or another. If nothing else, they get worn out from being used for so long. While you are sleeping, your body is able to repair the damage and get your muscles ready for the next day.
This becomes especially important if you are working out and trying to build muscle. The soreness you feel after an intense workout is actually caused by microscopic tears that develop in your muscles when they are overworked.
Your body responds to this by rebuilding the muscles and then overcompensating, making the muscles larger and stronger so that they can take the strain of your workout. It does all of this reparation and regeneration while you’re asleep.
However, if you do not get enough sleep, you are going to notice that your body simply won’t be able to build any muscle. No matter how much you workout, your muscles won’t be getting that much bigger. You will also notice that it is taking your body far too long to get over that post workout soreness.
In fact, not sleeping enough for an extended period of time can potentially result in muscle atrophy. This means that your muscles will actually start to shrink in size because your body is not getting enough time to repair them.
Hence, if you want to build some major muscle, keep in mind that the best way to do that is to get enough sleep every night.
4. It Makes Your Mind Sharper
Without a goods night sleep I would not of been able to concentrate on this detailed piece of writing.
Also, you have probably noticed that pulling all nighters is not a very good idea. In fact, a lack of sleep in general makes you a lot less mentally sharp, often making even the simplest of tasks feel impossible if they require you to use your brain.
This is because when your mind is deprived of sleep, it loses a significant portion of its cognitive abilities. Your brain needs a particular balance of chemicals in order to perform at maximum capacity. Neurons firing are a lot like electricity. If the wiring is faulty, the electricity won’t pass through properly.
This is exactly what happens to your brain if you do not sleep enough. Your brain repairs and rejuvenates itself while you sleep, preparing it for mental challenges that it might have to face one day.
If you are experiencing difficulty performing tasks that require you to think, try sleeping more. You will be surprised at how much your mental performance will end up improving after you have been getting a full night’s sleep for a few nights in a row.
5. It Prevents Car Accidents
It is a commonly accepted fact that driving home drunk is extremely irresponsible behavior. This is because your judgement is impaired, along with the fact that you are drowsy and thus can get confused and drift off of your lane.
There are several reasons why driving drunk is unacceptable.
All of these reasons apply to driving while sleepy as well. Driving while sleepy is particularly dangerous because if you are very sleep deprived you can end up suffering from instances of micro sleep.
Micro sleep would be a moment of unconsciousness that does not last more than two or three seconds. If this happens while you are driving it can result in catastrophic accidents.
Sleep deprivation can result in a number of other phenomenon as well, such as double vision and delayed reactions that can potentially result in deadly crashes as well.
If you are well rested, your judgement is going to be greatly improved, and there will be absolutely no chance that you would veer off of your lane.
Staying well rested is an important part of being a responsible driver, just as important as not driving while you are drunk.
6. It Helps you Lose Weight
This is another fact that may seem odd to you. After all, while you’re sleeping you’re basically just lying there, doing nothing whatsoever. By this logic, getting up early and working out for longer could help you lose more weight.
However, this logic is ignoring one extremely important point: sleep is necessary in order to keep metabolism up.
Metabolism is the process by which your body utilizes energy. Having a high metabolism is one of best ways to lose weight. Some people are born with high metabolisms, but these become useless if a regular sleep schedule is not maintained.
If you don’t get enough sleep, your body will slowly become unable to maintain processes like the metabolisms of fat. This is why it is highly common for people who do not get enough sleep, caused by snoring and other conditions to be obese.
In fact, lack of sleep is one of the most common causes of obesity. If you are both overweight and a snorer using the AirSnore anti snoring mouthpiece will help in both cases.
No matter how much you work out, it will all be useless if you are not giving your body and mind adequate time to shut down and regulate the various functions they are responsible for. If you can’t seem to lose weight, chances are it’s because you’re not getting enough sleep.
7. Sleeping Reduces the Risk of Diabetes
For a lot of people, diabetes is in their genes and thus will certainly develop at some point in their lives. For other people, diabetes can develop due to environmental factors. Whatever the case may be, getting enough sleep is one of the biggest ways in which diabetes can be prevented.
Even if the disease is in your genes, if you are getting enough sleep you are going to be able to postpone the disease indefinitely as long as you monitor your diet and take regular exercise as well.
Sleep helps with this because of the role that it plays in the regulation of hormones in the body. The lack of the hormone insulin is what causes diabetes. If you are getting enough sleep, your body will be able to keep the pancreas health, thus ensuring that you get more than enough insulin.
However, if you are not getting enough sleep every gland in your body is going to suffer, including the pancreas. If your body is not getting enough rest, it will start to malfunction. Once your pancreas starts malfunction, you will have started suffering from diabetes and there will be no way to reverse it.
8. Sleep Helps Relieve Stress
You might have noticed that you always feel better after a good night’s sleep, no matter how terrible the stress you are trying to overcome is. There is a very important reason for this.
Apart from regulating hormone levels and allowing the body to repair itself, sleep allows your brain to overcome things that are making you anxious. You might have bad dreams while you are asleep, but when you wake up you will definitely be feeling better.
If you are stressed out, chances are that your brain needs relief even more than usual. Sleep allows your brain to turn itself off and essentially prepare yourself for stress. This is why people who have been emotionally charged and stressed for a long period of time tend to crash and fall asleep rather quickly. Sleep allows the brain to repair itself and protect the mind from permanent damage.
Stress often prevents sleep, but if you have a pre-sleep routine that is strong enough, there will be nothing that can stop you from sleeping. Once you wake up, you will find that whatever was bothering you seems a lot more manageable.
9. Sleep Helps you Make Better Decisions
Sleep deprivation leads to two distinct changes in the chemical composition of your body.
- Firstly, the level of serotonin in your body decreases.
- Additionally, your body starts to secrete more adrenaline, believing that you staying up is an important part of your survival and secreting chemicals to help you do it.
This has a huge impact on your decision making skills. Serotonin has a levelling influence on you. It allows you to gauge a situation for what it really is in a calm and collected manner.
Adrenaline, on the other hand, forces you to act quickly. It is traditionally released during a fight or flight response, and is thus designed to help you make decisions without thinking too much about them. This can be useful in situations where your life is in peril, but otherwise it is not a very good trait to possess, particularly when you are making decisions that require thought and consideration.
The loss of the levelling influence and the presence of something, which makes you impulsive means that not getting enough sleep will have you making rash decisions. Get enough sleep so that you are able to make good decisions after careful consideration.
10. Getting Enough Sleep Will Help You Save on Medical Bills
Chances are, a large chunk of the chronic illnesses you are suffering are caused by sleep related disorders. The lack of sleep can wreak some major havoc on your body, and if this extends over a long period of time the problems can become serious and even result in death.
In order to keep ourselves healthy, we usually end up spending a great deal of money. Doctors are expensive, particularly if you are suffering from a serious illness. Hence, medical bills are a regular worry for a great number of people, and often play a major role while making a budget for the rest of the month.
You will be surprised at just how much you will be able to shave off of your medical bill by getting enough sleep. Heart problems, diabetes, muscle atrophy even balding can be prevented if you get an adequate amount of sleep throughout the night.
If your doctor bills are making it difficult to save any money, try upping the amount of sleep you get each night by an hour or two.
11. Sleeping Makes You Less Likely to Abuse Substances
Alcoholism and drug addiction are two major problems that affect a lot of people. However, there is an underlying cause for these addictions that might surprise you.
Although this is certainly not true for everybody, a lot of people become naturally inclined towards substances abuse if they are not getting enough sleep. This is because a lack of sleep ends up disrupting your circadian rhythm. One of the major results of this disruption is a twisting of the reward system of the brain.
Since you are lacking in sleep, your brain will feel less pleasure than it would otherwise. Most people are perfectly content with their lives even if they are facing hardship. If you lack sleep, on the other hand, you are going to find it difficult to remain content.
In order to compensate for this, you might end up drinking too much, or possibly even start taking drugs. There is no excuse for alcoholism and drug abuse, but if you are finding yourself drawn to these activities, try to ascertain whether you are getting enough sleep or not. A month of getting regular, quality sleep might remove your desire to lean towards such destructive activities entirely.
12. Sleep Helps Prevent Headaches
A lot of people suffer from various kinds of headaches. One of the most common types of headache is the migraine. There are a variety of other common headaches as well, such as cluster headaches. Whatever the type of headache is, lack of sleep exacerbates it.
If you suffer from regular headaches, changing up your sleep pattern might help a lot. Your brain would achieve a more stable chemical balance that would facilitate a lower incidence rate for headaches.
This is particularly effective for migraine headaches. A lack of sleep can often result in severe migraine headaches that can get so painful that they end up being debilitating, preventing the person suffering from them from moving.
Another one of the most common causes for headaches is stress. Stress causes the muscles in your neck to tense up, which ends up putting strain on your cranium and causing major headaches.
By sleeping more and sleeping better, you are going to allow your body to relieve itself of unnecessary stress. As a result, your headaches will subside in a domino effect, which is in turn going to help you, sleep better as well.
13. It Boosts Your Immune System
This is perhaps one of the most significant benefits that a regular sleep schedule can provide. The problem with not getting enough sleep is that your body gets fewer resources to conduct renovations. One of the places where your body takes resources from in order to compensate for this shortfall is your immune system.
You won’t suddenly become susceptible to major diseases and die, but chances are that if you don’t get enough sleep you are going to end up getting diseases like the common cold and the flu more often.
Lack of sleep can also make you more susceptible to infections. Even cuts that aren’t so deep could end up getting infected and causing you to fall ill. This can be particularly dangerous if you have been deprived of adequate sleep for a long period of time. Your immune system would be particularly weak in this situation, making it very possible that an infection could get out of control.
If you find yourself falling ill frequently, getting more sleep could reduce the instances of illness. People who get enough sleep rarely ever fall ill, and if they ever do they hardly stay ill for very long.
14. It Will Make You More Patient
This is another important benefit of getting enough sleep. Lack of sleep causes severe irritability. This is actually a defence mechanism put in place by your brain. Since it is not functioning at maximum capacity, it starts looking at certain things as threats even though they are not really threatening in any way. This is why you start reacting aggressively for no reason when you are sleep deprived.
Serotonin, a chemical your body is deprived of while you are sleep deprived, plays a major role in making you patient. Adrenaline kicks your survival response into overdrive, and is produced in excess while you are sleep deprived. Hence, you become extremely irritable if you haven’t gotten enough sleep.
If you start getting enough sleep, you will notice that your patience will increase. Fewer things will annoy you, and when you do get annoyed you will be able to ignore it instead of overreacting or making a scene.
Sleep may seem like a waste of time if you look at it as simply being unconscious, but with benefits like these, it’s clear that it deserves to be a priority. With all the benefits that come with getting enough sleep, you would expect that many of us would be getting enough sleep or at least trying to. Unfortunately, that’s not what has happens for many of us.