Sleep is becoming scarce. And even though a good night’s sleep might be low on your priority list now, a healthy sleeping habit is very important. Viruses, such as COVID-19 are far more likely to attack you if your immune system is weakened by bad sleeping habits.
Everyone knows that sleep is essential to general health. Over the past decade, more and more research has piled up evidence to show that sleep is far more crucial than we thought. Matthew Walker, leading neuroscientist and author of ‘Why We Sleep’, states that sleep, more than exercise, diet and wealth, is the most important factor to our physical and mental wellbeing. Sleep is in fact... our superpower!
Sleep deprivation has a catastrophic effect on our health.Matthew Walker, leading neuroscientist and author of ‘Why We Sleep’
According to Walker, sleep deprivation has a catastrophic effect on our health: it makes us more forgetful, unable to learn new things, more vulnerable to dementia, more likely to die of a heart attack, less able to fend off sickness with a strong immune system, more likely to get cancer, and it makes our body literally hurt more.
Good quality sleep consists of three elements: duration, continuity, and depth. If your sleep is lacking in one or more of these elements, your health will suffer. Avoid binge watching Netflix, aim to sleep 7 to 9 hours per night and keep the 10 Sleep Hygiene Commandments of the World Sleep Society in mind:
- Establish a regular bedtime and waking time.
- If you are in the habit of taking siestas, do not exceed 45 minutes of daytime sleep.
- Avoid excessive alcohol ingestion 4 hours before bedtime, and do not smoke.
- Avoid caffeine 6 hours before bedtime. This includes coffee, tea and many sodas, as well as chocolate.
- Avoid heavy, spicy, or sugary foods 4 hours before bedtime. A light snack, such as a handful of nuts or low-fat yoghurt, before bed is acceptable.
- Exercise regularly, but not right before bedtime.
- Use comfortable, inviting bedding.
- Find a comfortable sleep temperature setting and keep the room well ventilated.
- Block out all distracting noise and eliminate as much light as possible. Try using earplugs or a sleep mask to help.
- Reserve your bed for only sleep and intimacy, and try to avoid using it for work or general recreation.
During these difficult times, it is tempting to let good sleep and other healthy habits slide until things go back to normal. The fact is that we have no idea how long this ‘new normal’ will last, so we better stick to them!