Sleep care is the new self-care

2021 is here and the first thing on everybody’s agenda should be: self-care!

Self-care is a personal matter. Everyone’s approach is different. When we discuss about self-care, we talk about the actions you can take to develop, protect, maintain, and improve health and well-being. It can be super helpful to integrate self-care activities or a self-care plan into your daily routine that promote relaxation, as well as a sense of peace and ease.

Some may have a hard time to pinpoint one aspect in life that they are going to want to adjust to become happier and healthier. There are a lot of things that we need to consider as self-care covers such as: life-balance, stress relief, weight management, fitness, relationships, spirituality.

But it is possible and may make your path of self-care easier. Here is a tip: Sleep care.

Of the three pillars of a healthy life, sleep is arguably the most important one. It affects psychological health, cardiovascular health, metabolism, and the immune system.

Here are a few “sleep hygiene” tips to help you get a goodnight sleep:

1. Avoid Caffeine & Nicotine

Both are stimulants that could keep your body awake. It is best to avoid them at least 4 to 6 hours before bedtime. Caffeine can temporarily make us feel more alert by blocking sleep-inducing chemicals in the brain and increasing adrenaline production. Coffee, tea, soft drinks, and chocolate are some beverages and food that contain caffeine. Nicotine, on the other hand, causes the release of epinephrine, which further stimulates the nervous system. Aside from this, it can reduce the quality of sleep by suppressing the rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, which is the deepest level of sleep.

2. Eat healthy

Fuel your body with nutritious food as this can reduce the risk of illness and improve your ability to recover. Finish your last meal of the day at least 3 hours before bedtime so you are done digesting.

3. Do not intake alcohol to help you sleep

Alcohol may aid in sleep onset, due to its sedative properties. However, it can reduce the quality of sleep as it also affects the REM sleep. In addition, it is a diuretic, suppressing the anti-diuretic hormone (ADH), causing your body to remove fluids at a quicker rate. As a result, your sleep can be disrupted by waking you more often to urinate.

4. Limit late night electronics

Whether for social media or work emails, we are more tempted to check them one more time before bed. Electronics can be over-stimulating, making it difficult to fall asleep. In addition, the glow from electronic devices can inhibit natural sleep cycles.

5. Develop a sleep routine

Having a consistent sleep-wake cycle would help keep the body’s clock regulated. It is suggested that one sleep and wake-up at the same time every day, weekends and holidays included.

6. Get up if not sleeping

If you have been trying to sleep for at least 20 minutes already, get out of bed. Try to do any calming and non-stimulating activity in a dark and quiet environment.

7. Avoid taking late naps

Studies have found out that 10 to 20 minutes of nap is the ideal nap length. It is enough to provide restorative sleep without causing one to be drowsy after waking. Avoid taking naps late in the day because it can affect your sleeping time in the evening.

Sleep is crucial for coping with the ups and downs of life, and for managing stress. Attempt to get a minimum of 6 hours of sleep every night, and refrain from sleeping for more than 9 hours.