I remember the first time I woke up after not sleeping enough and realizing how difficult the day ahead would be because I was running on empty. I thought, “Well, I must be getting old, and I just can’t do it anymore.” Where had my youthful vigor gone?
Turns out, this was a blessing in disguise. After I started to make the conscious effort to go to bed and get the 7-8 hours that are required (yes, that’s an order), I truly began to understand the value of sleep. I know. I’m a doctor. I should have known it all along. I did. But if you know anyone who’s gone through the wringer at medical school, you know that sleep is hardly stressed enough!
Sleep is when the body restores itself. Your body sees sleep deprivation as a form of stress. I know most of you are stressed enough during your waking hours; don’t let lack of sleep dig your body deeper. Deep rest is what helps you fight stress, maintain a healthy weight, and boost your energy levels. The most regenerative sleep occurs between 10 p.m. - 2 a.m.; 10 p.m. is your body’s optimal time to go to sleep. So start working toward reaching that goal. It may be difficult to unwind earlier than you normally do, but try it bit by bit. The benefits will start to become evident sooner than you think. And they don’t call it beauty sleep for nothing. Studies have shown that a well-rested face is a more attractive face. Additionally, getting quality REM sleep could actually help you lose weight.
If you can find peaceful slumber just by closing your eyes, you’re one of the fortunate ones. If you have some difficulty with sleep, it may be harder to achieve quality sleep – but it is doable. Just like anything else, you must work at it. There are basic rules for doing so. Cut the caffeine; if you have two cups a day, scale back to one. Limit light sources in the bedroom; even the dim glow of an alarm clock can interfere with sleep. Reserve the bedroom for sleep and sex. This is very important. For example, if you bring your work into the bedroom, your mind will associate your mattress with deadlines, to-do lists, emails etc. Make your bedroom a sanctuary, and look forward to retreating to it every night. Set a sleep schedule; get to bed and wake up at the same time every day – even on weekends. There are even plenty of bedtime snacks, which I approve of, to help you out as well. For more on that, click here.
If you’re feeling sluggish or stressed, don’t underestimate the power of sleep. In this case, getting healthier can happen overnight.