Sleep is probably the one thing we sacrifice the most in our daily lives. People would rather choose burning the midnight oil, or partying until the sun comes up. It’s normal for anyone to forego sleep just so they get to accomplish more things in a span of 24 hours. But should this really be practiced?
Sleep, as we all know, is good for you. We need it in order to maintain proper function and health. It is a way for the body and mind to recuperate after a long and tiring day. An average person should at least get 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night. The reason for this being our bodies go through various sleep cycles, wherein each stage has its own benefits.
Sleep can be classified into two kinds: Non-REM vs REM. Our sleep cycle always starts with non-REM sleep, which is further broken down into 3 stages. The first phase occurs the moment we close our eyes. Depending on the environment, it’s very easy to wake someone up in this stage. And as this is a cycle, it is completely normal for one to awaken at certain intervals ranging from 5 to 15 minutes. We then move to the next stage, which is known as light sleep. It is here where our heart rate slows down and our body temperature drops in preparation for the next phase. Although we are not aware, light sleep makes up most of our sleep, and helps in promoting mental and physical restoration. Finally, the last stage of non-REM sleep is deep sleep. It is in this stage where it will be harder to wake someone up. Deep sleep aids in the physical recovery of the body, and in some aspects, of memory. As one grows older though, we tend to have shorter time spans of sleep, and thus get less deep sleep.
Once the body has undergone all 3 stages of non-REM sleep, the cycle will then enter into REM (which stands for rapid eye movement). It is in this stage where various events occur: your eyes move quickly in different directions, heart rate is elevated, and breathing is faster. It is in this stage where dreams are more vivid since the brain then is more active. REM sleep is known to improve one’s memory and mood.
It is thus clear that the body needs a substantial amount of sleep every night. In addition to its restorative properties, here are more reasons why you need to hit the bed consistently:
- Lack in quality sleep may cause weight gain.
- Good sleep can improve concentration and productivity.
- Quality sleep can maximize athletic performance.
- Poor sleepers have a greater risk of heart disease, stroke, and Type 2 Diabetes.
- Lack of sleep may also affect our emotions and social interactions.
Finally, here are some tips on how to get the quality sleep you finally deserve!
- First, set up your natural sleep-wake cycle. Always keep a consistent sleep schedule, so as not to disturb your sleep cycles.
- Control your exposure to light. Get enough natural light during the day, whereas you lessen it at night. Avoid using your computer, phone or tablet, which all emit blue light. This disrupts your body from producing melatonin, which is your sleep hormone.
- Exercise during the day (instead of night). Exercise elevates your body temperature, and stimulates the production of cortisol, both of which can interfere with sleep.
- What you eat is still key to quality sleep. Try to take caffeine only in the morning as its effects can last up to 10 hours. Avoid big meals and food rich in sugar and refined carbs.
- Set a reminder 30 to 45 minutes before bed time for you to wind down and relax. Dim the lights in your room, set up the humidifier, and use white noise to provide a relaxing environment for you to sleep in.
BONUS: Why You Should Wake Up At 4 AM EVERYDAY
We now know what sleep can do to our bodies. We get in our 7 to 8 hours, but we schedule it in a way that we still sleep and wake up a little later. Having a consistent sleep schedule will do wonders for you, but I’m taking the extra step to challenge you now… in waking up at 4 AM everyday! You heard it right. That means sleeping in at around 9 to 9:30 in the evening, and waking up way before the sun rises. Why in the world would I propose such a thing?
I mentioned earlier that people have sacrificed sleep just so they can do more in a day. But let me ask you, were all those hours actually productive? The purpose of waking up at 4 AM is simple; it’s all about having a focused mindset and discipline. Picture this: people normally wake up around 6 or 7 in the morning. It will take them maybe 30 minutes (maybe an hour) to get ready for work, then an hour or so of travel time to get there. On a Friday night, they stay up a little later (but not late enough) to have some drinks with their officemates. They still have a consistent schedule, which is fine.
Now, compare this with my schedule of waking up at 4 AM. I usually sleep at around 9:30 to 10:00 PM every night. My silent alarm notifies me at 4 AM to get up. I have my coffee this early, and from 4 to 6, I use this time as a way to detach from the world. I meditate, write, read a book, or work on my side hustle businesses. I use the extra 2 hours in the morning to develop myself. 6 AM, I go to the gym to workout, wherein I usually end around 7 to 7:30 (this also includes fixing up for work). The day goes on, and at night, I try to have an early dinner with my family. During the weekend, I adjust my schedule to include going out with my family and friends. Notice the difference? The quantity of our schedules is alike, but I get to do more in a day when you compound the extra 2 hours in the next few years. This is what I want to point out. We are so focused on living in the present, but I want you to use your time efficiently to prepare yourself for the future. You don’t have to sacrifice much (because I still get to go out and unwind), but you have to discipline yourself right now to benefit later on in life. Having a consistent sleep schedule and waking up extra early shall entail getting a head start on everyone who are still fast asleep. You never have to sacrifice your sleep, and at the same time you have more productive hours than the normal person. Now, join me, and get a head start on life.