The average person knows that we should aim for about 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night, but how important is it? Obviously sleep is a time of rest and recovery for the brain and body. In fact studies have shown that there is increased neuronal activity and increased blood flow that occurs during sleep. A Boston University study in 2018 showed that cerebro-spinal fluid "washes" waste out of the brain.
So getting too little sleep is a little like not taking the garbage out. It is extremely important for your health. Failing to get adequate amounts of sleep in the long term can increase your risk of disease and accelerate the aging process.
So here are Dr. Barone's (AKA my) top tips to set your body up for a better night's sleep every night.
If you drink coffee at all, and can't sleep at night, then this is your A-Ha moment. If you feel like you need an afternoon coffee, a morning coffee, or coffee at all, you are replacing sleep with a drug called caffeine. Heard of it? This places your body under chemical stress, tightens your muscles and increases anxiety. Stop. Now. Replace it with water. Not tea, not pop, not "mud".. clean water.
People are chronically dehydrated. If you sleep with a glass of water beside your bed then this is a classic sign that you are waking up thirsty and not hydrating enough during the day. Drink around 1.5 L for every 100 lbs you weigh every day. Hydration will help your body detoxify and lighten the sleep process. If you are worried about peeing too much, grow up. If you drink all your water early enough you won't pee at night.
Take a Nap if you Want
In addition to setting a regular bed time every day, let yourself have naps. If you are tired in the mid afternoon, have a twenty-minute nap. Listen to your body and sleep when you are tired. You can't "catch up" on sleep later. Forcing yourself to stay awake will only stress your body more and make it harder to rest later on. If you just gave up caffeine, you will need the nap.
Avoid Alcohol at Night
If you think a glass of wine helps you sleep at night, think again. Sure, it will make you drowsy and may get you to sleep, but alcohol (or any chemical sleeping aid for that matter) adds toxicity into your body. This means more detoxifying and a less restful sleep.
If you want to have a drink or two, have it in the late afternoon before 6 pm, so your body has time to metabolize the alcohol before bed. Remember to drink that water too.
Get devices out of your room
Evening scrolling, morning emails, falling asleep with the TV on, all contribute to emotional stress and need to stop. The light changes your melatonin levels and interferes with your sleep. Keep your TV and phone in another room. For heaven sake, don't answer emails in bed when you wake up.
Set a Regular Bed and Wake Time Routine
A simple routine is better. Plan 20-60 minutes for wind down, preferably in a different room from your bedroom. Brush your teeth, meditate for 20 minutes, do some yoga, nothing complicated. Then go straight to bed. Plan a similar routine when you wake up: Meditate for 20 minutes, brush teeth, yoga, shower. Boom, you are ready to kick ass.
We all know that exercise is essential for your physical and mental well-being but not many of us realize how important it is for sleep. It is more than "wearing you out." Exercise improves your circulation, stimulates your nervous system and helps your body and mind rest in the evening.
Almost all chiropractic patients report getting improved sleep after one month of care. In addition to reducing back pain, headaches, and neck pain, chiropractic improves the flow of the cerebrospinal fluid that detoxifies the brain while you sleep.