Posted by Dr. Steven N. Green, DDS on 16th May 2016
Those who sleep fewer than 7 to 9 hours per day open themselves to many problems, including depression, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
When we have a busy schedule and don't get as much sleep as we should, many of us think there are no consequences, but in reality, we are much healthier and happier if we sleep well during the night, or nap and meditate during the day.
When we sleep well, we have more control over ourselves, and if you can control your brain, you will reap the rewards. There are three main reasons to begin your day early:
Productivity is largely determined by how long we can go without distraction. When you wake up late, you wake to stress and anxiety -- people send you emails, knock on your door, and divert your attention. In the quiet of the morning, these problems don't exist. Everyone else is still asleep.
When we get out of bed at the same time every day, we create a routine that gives us a feeling of power. This sense of control gives us the willpower to master other areas of life. Those who sleep fitfully during the night seem less in control of themselves.
Sleep deprivation can lead to microsleeps where the brain shuts down some processes briefly (less than a second to a minute). These momentary lapses can happen at any time without our knowledge. When someone "nods off," they are usually under the power of a microsleep.
Nap lengths have different benefits and drawbacks. A 10-20 minute nap provides immediate improvement in fatigue, vigor, and cognitive performance. Sleep inertia (difficulty waking) can occur during naps longer than 20 minutes, though people who have adjusted can reap the benefits of these longer naps.
For exercises that don't cause sleep inertia, follow these steps:
Meditation and napping can help relieve stress. Meditation is not a substitute for sleep, although it can lead to sleep. Meditation is a form of concentration and increased awareness (the opposite of sleep). If you are stressed, meditation can provide the opportunity to critically examine and let go of those thoughts. One can meditate in the morning, during the day and even before bedtime.
During meditation, blood flows more and increases the body's cellular activity. After a meal, blood accumulates in and around the stomach, taking blood from the brain, which causes drowsiness. On the other hand, meditation allows blood to flow freely throughout the body.
Taking a warm bath before going to bed can help you get the sleep you need. A bath raises body temperature, which enhances your quality of sleep and the rate at which you fall asleep. It will also decrease the amount of wake time after sleep onset and increase slow wave sleep.
Compared to whole body immersion in a tub, a warm bath of only the lower legs within an hour of sleep onset improves sleep, but does not raise core temperature. A warm foot bath increases peripheral blood flow and temperature gradient to facilitate heat loss without increasing core body temperature. Including bathing (or a foot bath), meditation, and affirmation as part of your sleep ritual will help you get better sleep.
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