Good sleep isn’t just about the number of hours you doze off. A consistent sleep schedule is a key to good health.
Do you find yourself awake at weird hours at night or suddenly napping in the middle of the day? If you do, chances are you don’t have a consistent sleep schedule. When you sleep at specific times at night regularly, you’re training your body when it’s time to wind down for the day. It also helps you stay alert and productive when you’re awake.
If you’ve been reading Cognitive Health and Wellness Institute for a while now, you’ll know that this site continues to promote quality and length of life. The quality of your sleep may be the next step you need to achieve that.
Why should you stick to a good sleep schedule
The importance of sticking to a good sleep schedule isn’t a science wonder. Its positive effects on the body are persistently promoted, but it’s easier said than done.
Your activities and habits during the day will impact your sleep. So, you must have a carefully planned routine that is only beneficial to your overall being. From what you eat, drink, to your daily schedule – you should be intentional enough to ensure that they all lead to a consistent bedtime routine that you can follow.
How much sleep does a person need?
Generally, kids are expected to sleep more than adults. These are the desired amount of hours:
- Adults – seven hours or more
- Teens – eight to 10 hours
- Preschoolers – 10 to 13 hours (with naps)
- Toddlers – 11 to 14 hours (with naps)
- Babies – 12 to 16 hours (with naps)
- Newborns – 14 to 17 hours
Preparing yourself for bed is crucial to the quality of sleep you’ll get.
An adult sleep coach based in Denver, Seth Davis, reiterates how sleep contributes to your physical and mental health. He added that you allow your brain to rest and process new information that you’ve learned on the day when you go to dreamland. It’s also a chance to strengthen the immune system and help the production of growth hormones in the body to recover and repair smoothly.
Thus, it would be best not to take scheduling your sleep lightly. Include it as a part of your day, and practice it until it becomes natural.
What is the best sleep schedule?
The schedule that will work best for you depends upon your body chronotype or biological preference, Michael J. Breus, P.D., the founder of TheSleepDoctor.com, explains. Timing shows that being a morning person or a night owl is valid.
Follow your body clock!
Listen to your circadian rhythm and know your body’s internal timing for sleep and wakefulness. It can help regulate your hormonal activity as it has neurotransmitters that send commands to the body that involve digestion and temperature fluctuations. All of these would determine the pattern of when you should sleep and awake.
The circadian clock also controls how you respond to light exposure or the lack of it. The environment may influence this biological rhythm too. Hence, when you align your schedule to the natural timing of your body, you promote regular and restorative sleep, which makes a good habit.
Why is sleep schedule good for your health
There’s a reason why you get cranky the next day when you don’t get enough sleep. And there are many more reasons why a quality bedtime routine is beneficial for your physical and mental health.
Sleep and physical health have a strong relationship, and studies prove it. A regular rest at night allows your brain and body to recover. It gives you the energy to be alert and refreshed the next day.
Lack of sleep leaves you tired even if you just woke up in the morning. When you rest, your bodily processes become more efficient. Your defenses against diseases and other medical conditions are strong, and you may avoid other health problems like obesity, heart complications, insulin management, immuno health, memory consolidation, and growth development.
The quality of sleep you get has a role in your psychological state. When you deprive yourself of rest, you become easily irritable and exhausted.
Studies reveal the connection of bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety, and other mental conditions to sleep. More research is yet to be conducted about the association between the two, as many other factors may affect the psychological being of a person. Regardless, getting enough sleep improves disposition and well-being.
Generally, a consistent sleep schedule is good for the different aspects of your health. It will strengthen your heart, boost your immune system, improve your mood, manage your weight, and increase productivity, making you a healthier and happier person.
Good sleep habits
Developing good bedtime habits would contribute to the success of your sleep. But, how do you do it? Each person has a different sleep-wake pattern that is ideal for their body and lifestyle.
Put your sleep schedule in your own hands! These are some of the ways to do so:
1. Keep a consistent sleep and wake time.
Listen to your body. Know the time you get sleepy and energized. Make it your bedtime schedule and follow it consistently!
2. Establish relaxing bedtime rituals.
3. Exercise regularly.
Some studies show that individuals with chronic insomnia who exercise sleep at least 13 minutes faster than they usually do. Physical activities change the body’s core body temperature, which could prepare it for rest and sleep.
4. Observe a balanced and healthy diet.
Some drinks and foods feature compounds that may make or break your sleep cycle. For instance, carbs may help you doze off faster. High-fat foods may do otherwise. Caffeine also has a disruptive effect on sleep which delays body clock timing.
5. Limit your alcohol intake.
The reminder “drink moderately” only applies when the sun is still up. Though many events involving drinking alcohol happen at night, try to stay away from doing so close to your bedtime. Even better, avoid alcohol altogether, especially when it’s late in the day.
6. Keep bedroom use only for sleep.
If your space permits you, maintain a discipline of having a bedroom for relaxation and sleep only. Avoid distractions such as TV and other gadgets (music can be an exception if it helps you sleep). This way, you can associate your room only with sleeping and nothing else.
7. If you nap, keep it short.
Some people feel more energized when they have short naps during the day. If you need to close your eyes and get some rest in between breaks, make sure it’s no more than 30 minutes to 1 hour. Otherwise, it might be harder for you to sleep when it’s time for bed at night.
8. Avoid smoking.
Nicotine can disrupt the quality of your sleep. Many smokers feel sleepy during the day. Worse, cigarette puffers often have irritated nose and throat tissues which can cause sleep apnea. If you’re sleeping with your partner, you’ll have a happier bedtime – and relationship! – without this.
9. Reduce blue light at night.
While light has a positive effect in the morning, it may do the opposite at night. It is still related to how the circadian rhythm works and how it tricks your body to think it is daytime when there’s light. Exposure reduces melatonin production which could help in relaxation and sleep.
10. Consider some supplements.
Several supplements induce sleep and relaxation. The best examples are Ginkgo biloba, glycine, valerian root, magnesium, Lavender, and L-theanine. Try any of them one at a time at night. They are not the solution to sleep disorders, but they can help. And, make sure to consult with your doctor first.
How important is consistent sleep
We are familiar with the concept of getting eight hours of sleep every night. But, most of us neglect the importance of completing those hours of sleep in a consistent pattern and timing.
Sleep regularity captures an informative dimension of sleep (Dr. Phillips, Harvard). Even if you get eight hours of it, you may still miss out on sleep-related benefits if you rest at inconsistent times every night.
Stick to a consistent sleep schedule and reduce the risks of contracting major health problems! A sleep pattern may be challenging this pandemic, most especially if you are working at home and it seems like there are no rules anymore. Cognitive Health and Wellness Institute challenges you to a regular pattern that your mind and body will thank you for!