As science advances on issues related to mental health, it is being seen that the importance of having a restful sleep is crucial.
It is not just a matter of not feeling bad in the morning and performing better when working or studying; In addition, something as simple as not sleeping well for several months causes the chances of developing a wide variety of psychological disorders, and even some diseases that go beyond the functioning of the nervous system and affect other parts of the body.
That is why it is essential to adopt certain simple habits that allow us to sleep better and make the most of the hours spent resting. Even if you have trouble falling asleep.
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Why is it important to get a good night’s sleep?
If we dedicate a good part of the hours of the day to sleep it is not by chance. In nature it has been seen that practically all vertebrate animals need to sleep with a periodicity similar to that of humans; Even species that, due to their biological characteristics, do not rest as we enter a state of numbness, in some cases causing the two halves of the brain to take turns sleeping (as happens, for example, with dolphins).
This is due to something relatively simple: with complex nervous systems, it is necessary to have a self-maintenance system that is up to par . That is why our bodies have evolved to be active during certain times of the day, and inactive during the rest of the time. And the best way to take advantage of that stage in which it makes no sense to go out to look for resources or create links with others is to make the nervous system charge energy and reorganize its functioning.
In fact, it is believed that one of the reasons we need to sleep is not only to prepare our networks of interconnected nerve cells so that they can face a new journey, but also the stage of sleep allows us to consolidate in our long-term memory Useful content that we have learned during the previous hours, either consciously or unconsciously.
This fits with what we know thanks to research in neuroscience : when sleeping, our nervous system not only does not turn off, but we can hardly say that it is much less active than when awake. In those moments millions of neurons begin to send electrical signals in a coordinated way with each other, and generate nervous activation patterns that give name to the different stages of sleep: the REM stage and the non-REM stage, which in turn is divided in other phases. The human brain is made to take advantage of these hours to go through these phases and let the neural interconnections readjust each other, looking for the best possible configuration for sunrise with charged batteries and clear mind.
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Keys to sleep better and restoratively
Now that we have seen to what extent the hours spent in sleep are far from being wasted time, let’s see several tips to get a better sleep. To do this you must start integrating these habits into your daily routine, and although at the beginning it will require a certain level of commitment, in case you do it well it is very possible that after several months they will automatically leave you, without need for premeditation to come into play.
1. Coffee, only in the morning
Do not underestimate the psychoactive power of caffeine: introducing this substance into our system will have effects even if we are not immediately aware of it. Therefore, it is best to maintain a certain discipline of drinking caffeinated beverages , doing everything possible so that it is inconceivable to drink it in the second half of the day.
2. Practice Mindfulness
In many studies Mindfulness has proven effective in managing certain experiences linked to anxiety and even pain. Therefore, if you notice that there is something that worries you and what you are going around in the head, or if you have a health problem that causes you some discomfort, you can try this kind of practices inspired by meditation. Of course, it is advisable to receive training from a psychology professional , to teach you the basics and from there you can apply them in your day to day. Psychologists can help a lot in this regard.
3. Respect your resting place
Not all the keys to better sleep go through controlling what happens inside our bodies: the environment also influences, and much. Take the time to see which elements of the room in which you sleep work and which do not work when allowing you to enjoy a good quality of sleep. Sometimes, the definitive solution is something as simple as stopping and realizing that it is necessary to expose yourself less to the light of the lamp that enters through the window, or buy a more comfortable mattress.
Also, if you notice that you are having trouble falling asleep, try not staying in bed for several hours to do activities that have nothing to do with rest, such as eating or using a laptop. In this way you will associate that place with what you see and feel every time you are about to start sleeping .
4. Keep a good exercise schedule
If you have a habit of going to the gym, going for a run or practicing any kind of sport, be careful not to do so during the hours before going to bed. If you do not respect this pattern, you will probably end up “cheating” your body, so believe that dinner time is still a time when the environment can bring us challenges that require physical effort.
As a consequence of this, when the time of night comes when we try to go to sleep, the activation state of our nervous system and our endocrine (hormonal) system will simply not leave us , and we will not be sleepy until much later.
5. Keep a good work schedule
In the same way that it is important to be careful when you exercise, you also have to keep some control over your work hours. This is so for two reasons. On the one hand, working activates us mentally, even when by our profession what we do is fundamentally an intellectual work. It is true that writing a report shortly before going to bed does not imply the same for our quality of sleep as dedicating that time to running for a while, but despite that, it will probably make it a bit more difficult to start sleep at the time you play, because our brain will be more “on”.
On the other hand, if we are letting the work gradually enter into the schedule of what our free time should be, it will be easier that with the passing of the days we will accumulate chores (for domino effect) and that the Being forced to go to sleep late becomes the norm, and not the exception.