We’ve noted in prior posts that all healthy practices – and healthy functioning bodily systems complement and support each other and – in a sense – are interconnected, so here’s yet another health tip that is all-too-common sense, but not always all-too-common practice: getting enough quality sleep. Here’s just a few reasons why sleep is important (from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute):
- Healthy Brain Function and Emotional Well-Being – dopey brains make lousy choices, right? 🙂
- Physical Health – and this applies to all the body’s systems: Cardiovascular/Circulatory, Digestive, Excretory, Endocrine, Integumentary/Exocrine, Lymphatic/Immune, Muscular, Skeletal, Nervous, Renal/Urinary, Reproductive, and Respiratory
- Daytime Performance and Safety – If we stay alert … and therefore safer while driving or doing any number of everyday activities that require focus and attention, it just makes good sense that we’re minimizing the probability of ‘doing a number’ on ourselves that might have us out of commission, and those incidents often work against the best health (including weight loss) regimens
If you tend to let time get away from you – and perhaps stay up later than you imagine you should, try an app for your smartphone to gently remind you to ‘turn in’ when it’s time for bed. Here’s a screen snap of the “Bedtime” feature of the Apple iPhone “Clock” app which is super ease to use.
In this example, adjusted for Daylight Savings Time, the longest day of the year (at the author’s latitude), I determined that on the summer solstice, (June 21 this year) sunrise would be around 5:33 AM and sunset around 9:04PM, so this should (roughly) maximize daylight hours for the summer months, with a simple hour shift for standard time. Here’s a website to get your Latitude and Longitude, and a Sunrise/Sunset Calculator. Using a schedule similar to this, if you get up a few minutes before the alarm goes off, you’ll have a bit of extra morning twilight around the solstice, too. Of course if you live on the North or South Pole, your diurnal rhythms probably need a lot more support than this!
Here are a few more sleep tips from the Mayo Clinic:
- Stick to a sleep schedule. Go to bed and get up at the same time every day, even on weekends, holidays and days off. …
- Pay attention to what you eat and drink. Don’t go to bed either hungry or stuffed. …
- Create a bedtime ritual. …
- Get comfortable.
In any case, find out what works, including light-blocking blinds, acoustic aids to either minimize extraneous bedroom noise or perhaps a surf generator to mask noise you can’t eliminate, and learning what habits work well for you … and sticking to those habits. You might even discover that (for example) a schedule that gets you on an ‘early to bed, early to rise’ routine gives you some extra time to be productive in the morning hours, including activities such as aerobics, stretching, meditation, or picking up on a project from the day before with renewed mental clarity and efficacy. Getting enough sleep can do wonders for your motivation, too!
You can easily figure out (depending on whether or not you’re in Daylight Savings Time) how to optimize your waking hours for best use of outdoor light and sunshine if that’s something important for you… which can also minimize your electric lighting bills, incidentally. If you have electric candles on timers, set them to go on when you want to get up around your house and to go off when you want to ‘turn in’ as additional reminders. These can also help kids, pets, evening guests and others with a subtle hint, too. 🙂
… and just to let you know that your blog author attempts to practice these healthy tips whenever possible, last night, instead of finishing this article, I ‘called it a day’ at a reasonable hour, which is why this email (if you’re reading it via our free weekly email bulletin) is a day later than usual. 🙂
Happy dreams and awakenings! 🙂