Sleep Care is the Ultimate Self-Care

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The best version of yourself emerges after a night of restful sleep. The cognitive functions are better able to learn, remember, be creative, and feel happy when they get enough quality sleep. Healthy sleep also helps the immune system function better and makes it easier to maintain a healthy diet. The bottom line, sleep care is the ultimate self-care so let’s discuss all things sleep and become the best versions of ourselves.

Lack of quality sleep can leave you feeling sluggish, disoriented, sad, and drained of vitality. Having trouble sleeping can be very noticeable at times. In other circumstances, the negative consequences of lack of sleep tend to build up over time, and the individual may become acclimated to them before realising the extent to which they are affecting their health and quality of life.

Think about how you normally spend the night and how restful your sleep is. Maintaining a healthy sleep routine involves more than just hitting your sleep target hours; it also requires regular, restful sleep.

So, what does a healthy sleep pattern look like? Well, the effects of sleep on the human body are far-reaching and multifaceted. We progress from stages 1 and 2 of light sleep to stage 3 of deep sleep and finally to stage 4 of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep during a typical night’s rest. In order for sleep to restore our bodies and minds, we must be able to progress through each of these stages numerous times per night. Getting enough hours of sleep each night, sleeping somewhat uninterruptedly, and sticking to a steady sleep pattern that works with your natural circadian cycles will get you the maximum benefits from your sleep. Below, we’ll go into detail about how each of these factors contributes to a restful night’s sleep.

Sleep Duration

It is important to have a regular sleep schedule that allows you to get a sufficient quantity of sleep each night. The National Sleep Foundation suggests that individuals obtain between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night, with those over the age of 65 requiring between 7 and 8 hours. Children, due to their rapid growth and development, are advised to get more sleep than adults, with the exact number of hours each night changing with age. Teenagers typically require 8–10 hours of sleep per night, while infants may need as much as 17.

The following suggestions will help you get started thinking about what a healthy night’s sleep means for you, but remember that everyone has different sleep requirements. You may require less or more sleep than recommended, depending on variables like your daily routine, activity level, and genetics.

Sleep Continuity

A good night’s sleep is uninterrupted. It is more restorative to sleep undisturbed through the night than to sleep fitfully or for long stretches of time. An unhealthy quantity of deep sleep and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep may be avoided if your sleep is frequently interrupted. In the case of sleep apnea, for instance, interrupted breathing during the night causes brief partial awakenings. Although their total sleep time may look regular, they may nevertheless be suffering from sleep deprivation due to frequent awakenings.

According to research, getting uninterrupted sleep appears to be at least as crucial as total sleep time for maintaining healthy brain and body function. In a study, participants who reported higher sleep continuity had better performance on cognitive tasks the next day, and this effect was found to be independent of total sleep time.

Sleep Timing

What time of day you go to bed and wake up can have a significant impact on your productivity and health. The process of synchronising your internal clock with external stimuli, known as circadian rhythms, is an integral part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. To put it simply, light is the master regulator of circadian cycles. Dim illumination or total darkness initiates chemical changes that encourage sleep, whereas bright light stimulates biological processes that make us feel alert. It is more challenging to fall asleep, stay asleep, and receive enough hours of sleep when the sleep schedule is not matched with circadian rhythms, as is the situation for many shift workers or people experiencing jet lag.

Having a set time each night to go to bed also aids in quality sleep. Mice whose normal sleep schedules were disrupted slept for the same amount of time as before, but their quality of sleep declined. People who stick to a regular bedtime are less likely to experience negative health impacts, such as weight gain or diabetes.

Is Your Sleep Healthy?

There are many short-term and long-term benefits to healthy sleep, and assessing your nightly experience of sleep in terms of duration, continuity, and timing is just the beginning. Some daytime signs that you have established a good sleep routine include:

  • When you get up in the morning, you feel revitalised.
  • Having a great deal of stamina throughout the day
  • Being in a good mood
  • Feeling clear-headed

However, there are also tell-tale signs of a less-than-healthy sleeping routine. Symptoms of chronic sleep loss or poor nightly sleep quality include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Having trouble getting up in the morning
  • Struggling to focus
  • Irritability, depression, or anxiety
  • Feeling sleepy during the day or needing to schedule daytime naps
  • Sleeping much longer or later on unstructured days

If one or more of these signs sounds like you, start by examining your sleep hygiene practices to see whether you can promote better sleep by changing your environment, adjusting your daily activities, and establishing a bedtime routine.

But don’t worry, as help is available! Consult your physician if you need help figuring out how to improve your sleeping habits. If you are already practising proper sleep hygiene and still having trouble sleeping, or if you are worried that you may have a sleep disorder, you should consult a doctor. You should talk to your doctor about how to improve your sleep, as well as any potential interventions or methods, to determine what is affecting your sleep.

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