Do you get the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep per night?

Do you get quality shuteye?

If the answer is no to either of those questions, read on.

It’s been said that the best bridge between despair and hope is a good night’s sleep. That’s because sleep plays a vital role in our well-being. Getting quality nighttime rest enhances your mental and physical health, overall safety, and quality of life.

Six Reasons Why We Need Better Sleep

1. Learning and memory. During sleep, your brain takes experiences from your day and commits them to long-term memory in a process called memory consolidation.

2. Metabolism and weight. Chronic sleep deprivation can cause weight gain by affecting the way our body stores carbohydrates and manages hormones.

3. Safety. A lack of sleep makes you drowsy during the day, impairing decision making on the job, while driving, and during other activities.

4. Mood. Sleep deprivation may cause irritability, impatience, moodiness and inability to concentrate, which may leave you too tired to do things you enjoy.

5. Cardiovascular Health. Studies link sleep disorders to hypertension, an increase in stress hormones, and an irregular heartbeat.

6. Disease. Sleep deprivation impairs immune function and increases the risk for a myriad of diseases.

Six Ways to Improve

Want to hack your sleep regimen? Try these ideas:

1. Stick to the same sleep schedule seven days a week.

2. A conducive sleep environment. Keep the bedroom cool, free from noise, and free from any light. Consider black-out curtains, eye masks, ear plugs, white noise machines, humidifiers, fans, and other devices.

3. Make sure you have a comfortable mattress and pillows. Quality mattresses last up to 10 years, but after that they need replacing. 

4. Manage your circadian rhythm by enjoying sunlight in the morning by avoiding bright lights in the evening. Consider blue light glasses after 7 PM if you use your phone, television, or a computer in the evening.

5. Avoid alcohol, cigarettes, heavy meals, caffeine, and drinking lots of fluid near bedtime. These can all disrupt your sleep.

6. Wind down before bed. Read, stretch or meditate in the last half hour before bed. 

Other Great Tips

1. If you can’t fall asleep after laying in bed for a while, go to another room and do something relaxing until you feel tired again.

2. Only use your bed for sleep and sex, which strengthens the association between bed and sleep. Avoid using electronic devices in your bedroom.

3. Use a sleep diary to evaluate patterns or problems affecting your bedtime routine.

4. Avoid naps during the day and exercise daily to help burnoff excess energy.

If you still have trouble sleeping, don’t give up. Keep Going! And don’t hesitate to talk to a doctor or a sleep expert.