The National Sleep Foundation celebrates Sleep Awareness Week every March to raise awareness of the health benefits of sleep and its importance to safety and productivity.
Sleep plays a significant role in maintaining good health and well-being throughout your life. Getting enough quality sleep can help protect your mental and physical health, safety and quality of life. The way you feel during your waking hours depend on what happens during your sleeping hours, which is when your body works to support healthy brain function and maintain physical health. In younger people, especially children and teenagers, sleep also helps promote growth and development of the body.
Sleep deficiency can cause severe damage, even death. It can occur in an instant (such as a car crash from being overtired), or it can harm you over time, leading to chronic health issues. Sleep deficiency also can affect how you react, think, work and learn.
Ways to Improve Your Sleep
Stick to a regular sleep schedule
Go to bed and wake up at the same every day – even on weekends. This will help to regulate the body clock and help you to fall asleep easier.
Practice a relaxing bedtime ritual
Try a relaxing routine before bedtime, such as deep breathing exercises or listening to calming music in the dark. A relaxing, routine activity right before bedtime can help to rid the body of stress and anxiety, which inhibit sleep.
Exercise is an excellent way to tire the body out enough to fall into deep, relaxing sleep. The more vigorous the exercise, the better, but even light exercise is better than no activity.
Change Your Bedding
Make sure your mattress and pillows are comfortable and supportive. It is a good idea to change your bedding every few years to ensure they give proper support and are free of dust mites and other allergens.
Take Power Naps
If you aren’t getting enough sleep at night, taking short power naps during the day might help you get through it. However, if the power naps stop you from falling asleep at bedtime, then stop the power-napping.
Avoid alcohol, cigarettes, and heavy meals in the evening
Aside from being extremely dangerous for your overall health, alcohol, cigarettes and caffeine can cause discomfort from indigestion or breathing problems, leading to sleep interruption.