Everyone knows that sleep is important, and the old mantra of getting “eight hours a night, every night” is one that lots of people try to achieve no matter how busy they are. But in reality, it’s not quite so easy to get that much sleep – especially if you work, have children, or are otherwise very busy. From tossing and turning to get up to feed the kids, lots of things can get in the way of you achieving those golden eight hours per night.
Striving to get a solid sleep schedule in place can provide all sorts of benefits though. It can make you more alert in your school or workplace, for example, while it can also lead to a more restful night and reduce the chances that you will end up cranky the following day. This article will share some of the main health and lifestyle-related reasons why taking on a good sleep schedule is a wise move – and will also look at some of the ways to achieve this goal.
Your body’s rhythm
Everyone’s body has an internal rhythm, or a “circadian rhythm” – and it’s important to ensure that you find it and stick to it – otherwise, you may well end up feeling out of sorts. A lack of appropriate sleeping and waking signals from the brain is one of the reasons why jet lag feels so strange: when your body has got used to going to sleep at a certain time, it feels jolted when that sleep doesn’t then arrive. It’s also why people who suffer from jet lag are often advised to try to keep their sleep routine as normal as possible: landing at home at lunchtime after a 12-hour flight may lead you to want to go straight to bed, but by sticking as close to your normal rhythm as possible, you’ll be able to get yourself back into the normal swing of things more quickly.
Crankiness and moodiness
Another reason why people are often advised to get regular sleep is that the effects on their mood if they don’t, can be quite significant. A disturbed sleep pattern can lead to lack of concentration and distraction: if you start going to bed at one time and then change that suddenly to another time, your body won’t be able to work out whether or not it has adequately rested. It may be possible to get away with this once or twice, but it can’t be done over the long term. A restful night is just more pleasant overall, and that’s why lots of people go for products such as padded mattresses and a cooling pillow case that stays cool all night long – so there’s no longer a need to constantly flip it over to get the cold side!
Physical health effects
Most of the time, sleep-related physical health problems come not from having your sleep schedule disturbed but instead from not getting quite enough sleep. However, there is also some evidence to suggest that physical health problems can, in fact, arise from not getting a decent sleep cycle in place. Headaches are an obvious one, and many people have resorted to painkillers the day after a sleep that was out of normal cycles.
Skin and cell damage can also occur: when you sleep, your body takes the opportunity to work on healing cells of all kinds. If you aren’t sleeping in a regular pattern, then you may well find that you don’t ever go into the deeper stages of sleep, or rapid eye movement sleep, which allows your body to tackle its problems and regenerate cells. The knock-on effects can be both aesthetic, such as looking more sleepy or developing wrinkles, and even painful. If you want to protect your hair, skin and more, then sleeping on schedule is a very wise idea.
In short, getting a good night’s sleep is only half of the battle. You need to make sure that you also experience your sleep at roughly the same time each night. If you don’t, your body’s circadian rhythm is likely to quickly get out of whack – and that can cause everything from headaches to problems with concentration. And if you don’t give your body the chance to enter the deeper stages of sleep, the healing processes on which you rely might not occur – leading to all kinds of consequences.