In the never ending race to the top, sleep can be sometimes seem like the enemy, an annoying inconvenience that we just have to deal with. How many times have we heard that sleep if for the weak? While you may think you accomplish more in the day with less sleep, your overall productivity, the efficacy of your actions, and your overall health suffers greatly. While the debate on who needs sleep more, women or men, goes back and forth, there have been some studies that suggest that men on average get far less than the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep required. Just lying down, of course, isn’t enough and many suffer from poor quality sleep which is an even bigger danger than the total amount of time slept. Sleep’s regenerative qualities make it an essential component for self-care and through something known as sleep hygiene there are ways to maximize and prioritize your sleep routine.
Naps while prevalent in many areas of the world, some countries such as the United States reserve naps to the realm of babies, small children, and the elderly. In the battle between men and sleep however, they can be a powerful weapon in your arsenal. There are three major ways of napping which include: planned napping, emergency napping, and habitual napping.
Planned napping occurs when you specifically set aside a time of the day to take a nap when you know you will be up later than usual. Emergency napping can be utilized when you begin extremely drowsy during a dangerous activity like driving or operating machinery. Pulling over and taking a quick nap or taking a break and going to your car to rest could save your life. Habitual napping is when you take a nap at the same time every day such as a quick power nap every day during a lunch break. While naps should never be used in substitute a good night’s rest, they can help supplement a somewhat shorter than usual sleeping schedule and can literally be the difference between life and death in cases of extreme drowsiness.
A healthy diet brings about many benefits to your self-care including improving your sleep quality. Stimulants such as alcohol and caffeine should be avoided around four hours before you plan to sleep depending on your level of tolerance. Understanding your tolerance level and listening to your body can help you figure out exactly how much you can handle before bed. Any foods that are high in fat, spicy, carbonated, or contain certain types of acid can cause heartburn and indigestion which can affect your sleep. Whenever you have a sleepless night, think about what you had to eat and drink that day. Do a little research on those foods if you are not quite sure how healthy they are or what they contain. You may be surprised that something you have eaten for years was causing your sleepless nights.
Just like how you shouldn’t exercise immediately after eating it is best not to participate in strenuous exercise right before bed. However, aerobic exercise such as walking or cycling can make a huge difference in your ability to fall asleep quickly. Just 15 minutes of exercise has been shown to provide relief, but it varies from person to person, and it is important to find your own rhythm. You may need to push yourself extremely hard to notice any difference in your sleep or a light jog or brisk walk might be all it takes. As a compliment to this, exposure to sunlight and darkness help regulate a healthy sleep-wake cycle, so try to exercise outside a little each day to complement your gym routine.
A Comfortable Environment
Out of all the elements of a good night’s sleep and all the work you put into trying to achieve it, it will all come to nothing without the right environment. When it comes to men and sleep, this is the aspect that I think we don’t put enough effort into. A comfortable environment is key. Some people sleep on their side, their back, or their stomach and depending on that fact, the type and firmness of your pillow and mattress can vary greatly from someone else.
Besides what you are sleeping on the temperature, brightness, and noise level of your sleeping environment need to be acclimated to your comfort. Most people prefer a cooler sleeping environment and you should eliminate or reduce electronics in the room you sleep. Bright lights and electrical interference can disrupt your sleep patterns. In some cases, a sleep mask or placing a pillow over your head may be the only practical solution to reduce the light in your room. The steady hum of fan may also help to reduce background noise and provide a more peaceful sleeping environment. If you are having trouble sleeping, take a good look at where you sleep and how you could make it better.
You must understand how you sleep
Everyone needs a good night’s sleep, and everyone has their own preferences that need to be accommodated to achieve that sleep. A lot of people don’t listen to their body though which is critical to your self-care. I travel a lot and spend many nights in a hotel room. For quite some time, I thought that it was impossible for me to get a good night’s sleep while staying in a hotel. Maybe I just needed to be at home in order to sleep, but one day I suddenly had an epiphany about what the problem was. It was my pillow. All hotels have these giant fluffy pillows that you think most people would find comfortable, but I actually need a completely flat pillow in order to sleep well. After I started bringing my own pillow to hotels with me, I don’t ever have trouble falling to sleep. I went from insomnia to sweet dreams with just a simple change. Some of you may have deeper problems but maybe there is some simple fact about the way you sleep that you are overlooking, take a hard look and see what you discover.