Spring Forward With More Sleep: Sleep Hygiene Strategies

March for those countries that participate in Day Light’s Savings Time means Springing Forward and losing that extra hour of sleep.

The reality is, we sacrifice sleep throughout the year—not just that fateful day in March.

Many of us think of sleep as a luxury—something that we give to ourselves sparingly or even as a reward.

What’s important to remember is that sleep affects your health and mental wellness just as much as exercise, diet, etc. It affects learning, memory, mood, and even insight.

Are you cheating yourself out of a full 8-hours of sleep? Here are some of the benefits you’re missing:

1. Memory  

There’s ample research on the correlation between sleep and memory. In fact, most scientists think that sleep embeds the things we’ve learned or experienced over the course of our day into our memories.

Learned something new? Want to store away that wonderful moment from your day forever? Sleep will help you retain that information.

Lack of sleep results in a lack of focus, impairing you to remember just where you placed your house keys. With so much of our mood associated with being able to get through the day without added stress, sleeping might help mitigate the stress and increase your mood.

2. Learning  

Just like with memory, a sluggish mind means lack of focus, and a significant drop in productivity and comprehension. In youth, a lack of sleep often can result in hyperactivity or even the ability to focus in school.

3. Combatting Disease 

One of the most recent breakthroughs in neuroscience is the realization that sleep actually keep our brains healthy. Amyloid plaque is the sticky buildup that accumulates on the outside of nerve cells, creating beta amyloid, which is toxic to our brains and now thought to be the cause of numerous brain diseases, including Alzheimer’s.

So, how does our body rid our brain of such damaging plaque? Sleep.

4. Psychiatric Disorder Deterrent

There’s an undeniable relationship between sleep and those who suffer from psychiatric disorders: they often don’t sleep. However, by ensuring 8 hours of sleep a night, things such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and even ADHD often see an improvement of symptoms.

The verdict is in. If you’re not getting 8 hours of sleep, you’re not just missing out on benefits; you’re potentially setting your brain up for failure.

Some quick tips:

- No screens an hour before bedtime. That means no phone, iPad, computer or laptop, or TV. The blue light given off by our technological devices stimulates our bodies into thinking it’s still light outside, and not time for bed. 

- Consider taking Melatonin, a naturally occurring substance in your body that helps signal when it’s time to sleep. Unlike prescription sleep medications, melatonin is all-natural and non-addictive.

- Workout. If your body is tired, your mind will follow suit. Exercise not only improves your physical self, but also your mental one.

- Meditate before bed. Finding your inner zen can help slow breathing and clear the mind, letting you fall into sleep easier than without it.