An Ode to Sleep

“We spend about one third of our lives in a state of repose, defined by relative behavioral immobility and reduced responsiveness to external stimuli. Cumulatively, this amounts to several decades’ worth of sleep over the lifetime of an average person. Ah, I know you’re thinking, Wouldn’t it be great if we cut down on this “wasted” time to be able to do more! When I was younger, I, too, lived by the motto “You can sleep when you’re dead.” But I’ve woken up to the fact that for optimal, long-term physical and mental health, we need sleep.” (Source: Scientific American.)

I am obsessed with sleep. Although I am not a great sleeper to begin with, I consciously plan my night so that by the time my head hits the pillow, my body is prepared to fall into a deep slumber. I think I’m too aware of how 8-10 hours a night can benefit the body and mind. And I notice a distinct difference between 8-10 hours and 6-7 hours a night (which is not enough for me, personally).

Without a good night sleep, I am:

  • less productive and slower at getting tasks done
  • have difficulty concentrating
  • less articulate when speaking
  • lack coordination during exercise
  • moody and stubborn
  • snack more and generally eat unhealthily
  • have dark circles under my eyes

These are symptoms that I’ve observed in myself, but there is scientific evidence to back up these claims. When I’m fully rested, I wake up with that “can take on the world” can-do attitude. I feel bright-eyed and excited for the day ahead. The difference in how I feel without sleep is seriously night and day (pun intended).

How to wind down and prepare for a good night’s sleep:

  • exhaust the mind and body during the day through exercise and mental stimulation (aka work)
  • eat 2-4 hours before going to sleep
  • don’t look at electronics 1 hour before going to sleep
  • read in bed
  • drink a non-caffeinated tea, such as chamomile or peppermint, but do so an hour or two before sleeping (so you don’t have to wake up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom)
  • invest in blackout shades and try to make your room as dark as possible
  • turn off any buzzing/ringing of your phone and place it somewhere away from where you are sleeping
  • make sure your room is cool, but not too cold that your body can’t get comfortable
  • invest in earplugs or a sound machine (Waves app is a good one) if you are a light sleeper and sensitive to sounds

Sleep. Just do it.

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