Tuesday, February 10, 2015

5 Sleep Secrets You Should Steal From Babies

I am a strong believer that you can always learn something new every day and it only makes you that much smarter for doing so! The title of this blog post was immediately endearing to me and anyone can relate to that phrase -- "she/he slept like a baby" last night! You can imagine that if you slept like a baby you would be refreshed and ready to go! And...if you read my blog post from yesterday, I did mention Maslow's hierarchy of needs which includes sleep! I mean -- how can you be expected to function properly and have a productive day if you had a bad night of sleep? You just don't think clearly when you're tired!

In keeping up with your health and wellness -- as I'm sure my readers are -- it's important not to neglect sleep. The following are 5 great sleep secrets to start using in your life.

1) Go To Sleep In The Same Environment Every Night:
  • The vision of seeing a sleeping baby that just "lays out" comfortably is just so -- well -- comforting to see. In knowing that we as humans are built to sleep is amazing and our circadian system is meant to mature as we mature. What does this mean? "Circadian rhythms are physical, mental and behavioral changes that follow a roughly 24-hour cycle, responding primarily to light and darkness in an organism's environment. They are found in most living things, including animals, plants and many tiny microbes. The study of circadian rhythms is called chronobiology".
  • If our environment changes, than our sleeping cycle changes. So, if we keep to a frequently unchanging environment, than we are more likely to enjoy a restful night of sleep. 
2) Respect your pre-bedroom routine:
  • In following a good pre-sleep routine, we are more likely to get a better night's sleep. This means possibly taking a bath or shower before bed, reading or even meditating before you go to sleep and making these routines part of a regular practice should ensure you have better more restful zzz's.
3) Don't trust your inner "tired" sensors:
  • Just because you automatically get "tired" doesn't mean it's the right time to be tired. What if you get tired at 2 in the afternoon? It doesn't mean you take a nap at work! But, when we prepare to get to bed at a reasonable time, it's important to keep in mind that 5 or 6 hours is not enough. Like kids who say, "I'm not tired!" even though you know they slept badly; adults can be the same way. 
  • As this article points out: "When research subjects sleep only 4 to 6 hours a night, they decline in attention span and other cognitive functions, but even after 2 weeks of this, they say they're only slightly sleepy and that it's not affecting them. That means just like we do with kids, we need to set a bedtime based on our nightly sleep needs (7-9 hours), not on how tired we feel in the moment".
4) Dim The Lights Before Bed:
  • In listening to the natural circadian rhythms that are built into our own bodies, it is so helpful to prepare for a good night's sleep by, yes, dimming the lights, maybe listening to soft music or drinking a cup of chamomile tea before bed. For babies, playing a lullaby or giving them a warm bath before bed would be helpful as an example.
5) Design Your Own Nursery: 
  • This is so true that parents spend so much time building/creating the perfect nursery for their baby, but what about the parents? So many times they are too exhausted to see that they are surrounded by paper clutter or even may have an uncomfortable mattress which does not make for a good night's sleep. So much of our health and wellness is built on not only eating properly, but also in sleeping enough quality hours.

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