Here's A Super Simple 5-Point Guide For The Sleep-Deprived To Get More Restful Sleep
It's about time you figure out how to get some quality shut-eye!
Raise your hand when you thought working from home becoming a permanent setup meant you could finally catch up on sweet, sweet sleep that in-person working conditions deprived you of (Hello, EDSA/SLEX traffic. We still don't miss you).
Raise your other hand if you were proven wrong because many people are quick to assume that just because we're all holed up at home, we suddenly have all the time in the world to do double the work—so much so that we're staying up later to finish work or waking up earlier or just as early to fit in some me-time before the torrential rain of the day's responsibilities starts to pour.
Raise your feet if you think it's the most ironic thing ever that you're sleep deprived when you're spending more time at home than, well, ever!
It's food for thought today, World Sleep Day (which should be a national holiday, if you're asking us), a day when we're not only meant to take our time and slow down, but also assess if we really are giving ourselves quality sleep.
The keyword to remember is "quality" sleep, and not "enough" sleep.
Remember how we were always taught that adults need six to eight hours of sleep a night to fully recuperate? That's correct, but it's incomplete. It's from the hours of 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. that our bodies—bones, muscles, brain cells and all—repair themselves from the wear and tear of daily stresses. So, no, even though you might be getting your eight hours by going to bed at 2 a.m. and waking up at 10 a.m., that's still not entirely good for you!
If there's anything that's particularly useful for all us work-from-home folks to remind us about the need to rest (at the right time, in the right amounts), it's a nifty little gadget that does just that.
We're fans of the Fitbit watch, a small piece of tech that does big things for your health. When it comes to getting better sleep, the Fitbit watch pretty much gives you all the data you need to make the necessary lifestyle changes. In fact, below are some examples of these changes you might be able to take away from using a Fitbit watch:
Get tired, the right way
Just a few minutes a day helps, truly. And, know that exercise isn't just good for weight loss and improving the way you look. Exercise, when regularly done, helps regulate your body's sleep cycle in very important ways. You're likely to fall asleep faster (less twisting and turning in bed till you get some shut eye), and you get a lot more deep sleep (the phase in the sleep cycle when your body repairs itself, like we mentioned earlier). Put these things together and you wake up feeling refreshed.
Be like clockwork
We know that every day can't always be predictable. Schedules are fluid these days, what with all of our life's activities happening at home, but try your best to set a routine, at least for your pre-bedtime activities. You can start by giving yourself a deadline for when you're officially done with the day—when your phone is on DND mode, when your laptop is closed, and you're really just entertaining serious relaxation. Following a routine trains your body to get sleepy at more or less the same time every evening, helping you get those ZZZs you need.
Nourish, not just feed
We don't need to reiterate the need to eat a balanced diet. Instead, we're here to tell you to quit your midnight snacking cold turkey because you're doing all harm and no good to yourself!
Eating too close to bedtime (especially when you eat less-than healthy foods) confuses your body because you restart your digestive processes, thus interfering with your body's "winding down" state. You might be ready to sleep, but your internal organs sure won't be. Besides, packing in all those calories right around the time you hit the sack without burning them just means you night be packing on the pounds, too.
Feeling stressed out a lot of the time can have a ton of ill effects on the mind and body, and there are way too many to list down here. How stress affects sleep is equally complex, but perhaps what everyone might be interested in is this: stress produces the hormone cortisol. The part of our brains that produce cortisol also helps regulate our sleep cycles. If we're stressed out so often, our brain continues to pump out cortisol like there's no tomorrow, something that might result in insomnia, too-light sleep, and other sleep disturbances.
While you have no control over what your brain does and doesn't excrete, you can help it out by engaging in simple relaxation activities to keep your cortisol levels under control.
Perhaps, instead of an episode or two of your favorite Netflix show again, alternate that with a few minutes of deep breathing exercises or meditation. Your brain and body will repay you, kindly.
If you know you're not doing something right, you have to be the bad cop when necessary. Not that you should punish yourself, of course, because things really do get in the way of sleep sometimes! But know that if you're veering off track, you should be able to re-adjust and hop back on the wellness train again.
This is where your Fitbit watch comes in. It's not just there to tell the time; if the data it shows you about your sleep patterns are less than ideal, don't deny what you see! Study the data and see what areas you can improve in.
Specific features of the watch that can help you out are the Sleep Score it provides (it tells you things about heart rate and even night restlessness) plus Sleep Stages (a useful feature that tells you how much, or how little, of the healing deep sleep you're getting).
And with that, we wish you a happy World Sleep Day!
Bring out your best pillows and coziest blankets and give yourself the ultimate week-end reward: good, old fashioned rest.
Opening images from Pexels