Expert Blog Compelling advice, stories, and thought-provoking perspectives straight from YourTango's lineup of Experts to you

Sleep Makes You Beautiful (Says Science): 5 Ways To Get More Zzzs

sleep in
Contributor
Self

Improve the quality of your sleep = improve the quality of your life.

I used to live by the mantra, "I'll sleep when I'm dead." Meanwhile, I was cranky, overweight, and all kinds of irritable.

Then, I began reading research on sleep, and all that amazing science convinced me to make sleep a priority. What persuaded me to continue making adequate sleep a priority were the positive results I witnessed in my own body (and in my life).

Since this is National Sleep Awareness Week, it's a great time to become a custodian of your body, your time, your mind, your soul, your talents and your relationships. Getting enough sleep is the #1 tool in your arsenal to help you achieve all of that.

How much sleep is enough?

According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults need between seven and nine hours per night.

And no, Kitten—that isn't an "average" number where you get five hours of sleep most days and then sleep in lateon the weekend. It means making at least seven hours of sleep per night, EVERY night a priority.

Our minds and our bodies are designed to sleep about 1/3 of our life. I know we tend to view sleep as "unproductive" and just a time for our mind and body to "power down"; but, sleep research is showing us that this isn't the case.

Sleep is actualy an active period. I'm sure you've heard that our bodies need sleep in order to reinvigorate and renew. That's a true statement, of course, but it goes a little deeper. Our bodies need periods of rest that are long enough to synthesize our hormones, grow muscle, and repair our damaged tissues.

Sleep is also critical for our minds (and therefore, our souls), too. Sleep helps us solidify and consolidate our memories.

As we go about our daily lives, our brains take in vast amounts of information. (Suffering from mental overwhelm, anyone?) Information logged and stored in our short-term memory needs processing so that the brain can consolidate it into long-term memories. This happens while we sleep.

Darling, I really do understand how challenging the thought of setting aside the long list of to-do items is, because you feel compelled to DO MORE and you're SO BUSY. I know that going to bed early instead of checking in on Facebook or watching the latest Scandal episode may make you feel as if you are missing out on what the popular kids are doing. But, you DO need your beauty sleep. 

So, here are some tips for how to improve sleep quality (and how to make it a priority):

  1. Unplug at least an hour before bed. Blue light inhibits our brain's ability to shut-down, so turn off the TV, computer, phone, and all tablet devices. If you know you are going to struggle sticking to this, consider downloading F.Lux, which will shift the colors on your electronic devices from blue-tones to orange-tones. Oh, and, no matter what, stop charging your phone in the bedroom.
  2. Create bedtime routines. This includes shutting down your home and tending to your personal needs—brushing your teeth, washing your face and taking your medications.

    Make sure your evening routines include setting up a "launch pad" for the next day—making lunches, prepping the coffee pot, choosing an outfit, putting your gym bag together, and other such things that will make getting out the door in the morning easier. This actually keeps you from worrying as much and will also signal your body that the day is coming to a close.

  3. Your bedroom is sacred. You should only do two things in your bed: sleepi and have sex. Don't work in bed, don't watch TV in bed, and definitely don't pile your laundry on the bed.
  4. Create a better sleep environment. This includes making sure your mattress and pillows are comfortable and putting quality sheets and blankets on your bed.

    It also means blocking lights and sounds that keep you awake. Make your bed every morning, so when you come into your bedroom at night it feels more welcoming and inviting.

    Temperature is also important; set the thermostat somewhere between 60 and 67.

  5. Stick to a sleep schedule. Try to go to bed and get up about the same time every day. Yes, I know that means not sleeping in on the weekends. Your body functions at its best when it has a routine.

If you commit to giving sleep a priority for just 30 days, I promise you'll start believing the vows science touts about sleep, with results you can feel.

You'll discover that when you are well rested, your skin looks healthier, your body feels more alive, and you're less likely to overeat. You will be more productive, think more clearly, be more creative, feel sexier, and discover that you are able to better manage your emotions and the stresses of life. In short ... more sleep makes you beautiful, inside and out! 

Debra Smouse is a Tarnished Southern Belle and life coach who discovered that when she made sleep a priority, she fell in love with her life.

This article was originally published at www.DebraSmouse.com. Reprinted with permission from the author.

Author
Contributor