iSleep celebrates the World Sleep Day, on March 13th, with an article of Teresa Paiva about sleeping well. World Sleep Day is celebrated every year since 2008. This year’s slogan is “When Sleep Is Sound, Health & Happiness Abound”.
- The first thing to keep in mind is that sleep mirrors our daily life. If your days are filled with stress, plenty of work or concerns, sleep will deal with all of that and may be aroused, tiring, with unpleasant dreams, or it may not happen at all, because the mind is wondering about everything there is to do. Thus, in order to sleep well, you might want to manage your work in a way that you do take on more than you can handle. Also, you should try to limit your activities and look at stress rationally and wisely, get away from the things that are not important and focus only on what is really essential.
- The second most important thing is that, in order to sleep well, you have to eat well. Sleep and nutrition are regulated by neighbour and sometimes coincident nervous centres, and it regulates our appetite. This means that, in order to sleep well, you should have regular meals, which are supposed to be more abundant at the beginning of the day and less at the end of the day. In other words, you should not spend long periods without eating nor skip meals, you should not eat late at night (limit is 2 hours before going to sleep) nor eat heavily at night or drink alcoholic beverages or energy drinks. This also means that we should always eat at approximately the same time. But… sleep regulates our appetite! If we do not sleep enough, we eat more and get fatter, because at night we produce the leptine hormone which suppresses appetite and, while awake, we produce greline, which makes as eat.
- The third secret is that, to sleep well, the body has to “move”. That means that you have to do some exercise during the day, because, in order to perform its regenerative function, sleep has to repair the muscles, bones and articular tissues used in exercise. If we remain still, sleep is no longer needed. So you should work out, whether by doing simples exercises like walking 30 minutes a day, or by performing more complex kinds of exercises. However, intense physical activity should be avoided after 8 p.m. – it is not good leaving the gym at 9 or 10 p.m.! If you are usually tense, you should try relaxing activities such as yoga, tai-chi, etc.
- The forth aspect has to do with intellectual activity. Our brain is sleep greatest beneficiary, so if you do not use it, it is no longer needed. This happens to people who do not have anything to do because they retired, to elderly in retirement homes without any kind of activities, etc. You should keep intellectually active, but… not too much. Virtue stands in the middle.
- The fifth important aspect to keep in mind has to do with schedules. Don’t forget that you possess inner clocks in your body and in your mind; real biological clocks that measure time so rigorously as your watch. These clocks are a great biological advantage and they dislike being unregulated. So you should not change schedules every day, especially your bedtime hours. You should have regular bedtime and waking up hours: do not go to bed and wake up too early or too late.
- Don’t forget that you live in planet Earth, which has days and nights every 24-hours… This means that, to sleep well, you have to get some sun during the day and remain in a scarcely illuminated environment before going to bed. A little advice for those who do not get any sun – nowadays many people spend their whole days in closed buildings with artificial light – and at night are submitted to intense lighting at home through television, cell phone and iPad screens: take a little walk outside, without sunglasses, in the morning or early afternoon.
- Don’t harm your sleep! This is the last tip. Take care of it, thinking that it is essential to good health and that, if you ruin it, you get sick. You should treat your sleep disorder if you have one, because sleep is the most important asset to survival.