Adequate sleep significantly impacts our lives, particularly our well-being and mental health. We can increase our quality of life and happiness by effectively managing our sleep hygiene.
Sleeping Soundly: Effortless Ways to Elevate Your Sleep Hygiene
Ah, coveted sleep. Remember those teenage years when you could sleep until noon? Sleep is essential to your overall well-being and is associated with your mental health. Cleaning up your sleep hygiene is a self-management strategy that impacts your life.
Sleep hygiene refers to a set of practices and habits that promote healthy sleep patterns and quality sleep, it is critically important for our overall health and well-being.
How Much Sleep Do We Need For Our Well-being?
The amount of sleep needed for well-being can vary depending on factors such as age, individual differences, and lifestyle. However, the National Sleep Foundation provides general guidelines for recommended sleep durations based on age groups:
- Newborns (0-3 months) require 14-17 hours daily.
- Infants (4-11 months) require 12-15 hours daily.
- Toddlers (1-2 years) require 11-14 hours daily.
- Preschoolers (3-5 years) require 10-13 hours daily.
- School-age children (6-13 years) require 9-11 hours daily.
- Teenagers (14-17 years) require 8-10 hours daily.
- Young Adults (18-25 years) require 7-9 hours daily.
- Adults (26-64 years) require 7-9 hours daily
- Older Adults (65+ years) require 7-8 hours daily.
Sleep patterns may change with age, but the need for quality sleep remains. It's essential to note that while these are general guidelines, individual sleep needs can vary. Some people may feel well-rested with slightly more or less sleep than the recommended range. Paying attention to your body and ensuring you're getting enough sleep to feel alert, refreshed, and able to function optimally during the day is crucial. Consistently getting too little sleep can negatively affect physical and mental health.
Sometimes, we can't sleep because we are anxious or have trouble shutting down our minds. 'Sleep hygiene' is often overlooked, but it can have life-changing effects! When we put our children to bed, usually it's part of a routine including a bath, reading them a book or listening to music. Rarely would we expect them to go to sleep directly from play mode and expect them to fall asleep quickly. Therefore, why do we assume that of ourselves? It's challenging to go from being fully engaged to shutting down instantly. Sleep hygiene consists of routines or habits that promote more restful and restorative sleep.
Health Issues Associated With Poor Sleep Hygiene
The key to having a balanced mind and life is the quality of your sleep; good sleep hygiene equals quality sleep. According to the National Library of Medicine, if you are not getting restful sleep regularly, you are putting your well-being and mental health at risk, including numerous health issues and medical conditions, such as:
- Heart attacks
- Cognitive impairment
- Memory loss
- Chronic stress
- Heart arrhythmia
- Increased likelihood of accidents
- Mental health disorders
- Mood disorders
The Benefits Of Cleaning Up Your Sleep Hygiene
The benefits of cleaning up your sleep hygiene are worth it! Patience, flexibility, and alertness are the first things to go when we don't get a good night's sleep. Our brains need to recharge and store or discard memories from the day so that we can wake up feeling rested and ready for another day.
Why Is Good Sleep Hygiene Crucial?
Here's why sleep hygiene is crucial:
- Good sleep hygiene ensures better-quality sleep, which is essential for physical and mental recovery. It allows your body and mind to rest, repair, and recharge.
- Adequate and quality sleep is linked to various aspects of physical health, including a strong immune system, healthy weight management, and lower risk of chronic conditions like heart disease and diabetes.
- Poor sleep hygiene can contribute to mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. Quality sleep is essential for emotional regulation and mental clarity.
- Sleep plays a vital role in cognitive functions like memory consolidation, problem-solving, and creativity. Good sleep hygiene supports these functions, enhancing productivity and learning.
- Lack of sleep can lead to irritability and mood swings. Proper sleep hygiene helps stabilize emotions and reduces the risk of emotional disturbances.
- Sleep deprivation impairs judgment and reaction time, increasing the risk of accidents, especially when driving or operating machinery.
- Research suggests that people who consistently practice good sleep hygiene tend to live longer and enjoy a better quality of life.
- Adequate sleep is crucial for optimal performance in daily tasks, whether at work, school, or other activities.
Poor sleep hygiene can lead to decreased alertness and productivity. In summary, sleep hygiene is not just important; it's essential for maintaining physical and mental health. Implementing good sleep hygiene practices can significantly improve your overall well-being and quality of life.
Living a fast-paced life is what I have coined the “drive-by life phenomenon.” It is one of the most significant contributors to poor sleep hygiene. When you consider how vital your waking hours are, ensuring that you care for your mind, body, and spirit by getting the best quality of sleep possible makes perfect sense.
As you work toward strengthening your sleep hygiene, you will develop your emotional intelligence, which benefits your well-being and mental health. If you want to improve your emotional intelligence, consider taking a self-assessment to provide a personal analysis of your perception of your behaviour.
This article was originally published on January 14, 2017, and has been updated (September 2023)
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