The old saying is truer than most of us realize. When we live in harmony with our natural circadian rhythms, sleeping and waking with natural light, our minds and bodies can work at maximum capacity. A regular sleep-wake routine can improve your health, increase productivity, and even make it easier to learn and to think clearly. Here’s how.
Early to Bed
When we go to sleep early in the evening, not long after the sun has set, we allow our bodies to remain adjusted to natural biochemical signals designed to make us sleepy at the close of day when natural light dims. Head for bed when you first feel tired, usually between 8:00 and 9:30 at night.
The drowsiness you feel is caused by a natural drop in body temperature and increased production of certain neurochemicals and hormones that prepare the body for slumber. It may feel unnatural at first in our artificially-lit world, but you’ll be surprised how quickly you fall asleep and how rested you feel in the morning.
Early to Rise
Body temperature drops in the evening, and is one of many cues the body gives to regulate sleep patterns. Temperature begins to rise again around 5:00 in the morning, signaling biochemical changes in the brain and body that cause us to awaken comfortably with or just before the sun.
The artificial light and technological distractions that allow us to stay up late in today’s world mean that we feel almost painfully tired if we wake in the early morning, when we should feel most refreshed. Push your bedtime earlier in the evening and commit to waking between 5:30 and 6:30 every single morning for three weeks. You’ll reset your body to a comfortable circadian rhythm that lets you wake refreshed, in a better mood, and with fewer aches and pains than later risers.
Making You Healthy…
The average adult needs seven to eight hours of sleep per night to be fully functional. Getting the proper amount of sleep has been shown in research studies to reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and even some cancers.
In addition, individuals who sleep well tend to have more energy during the day and to feel fewer food cravings. A well-rested body manages insulin spikes better and so has less need for quick energy in the form of sugary carbs. When you sleep well, you’ll have the energy to exercise without feeling as if it’s a chore, and find yourself making better food choices without stretching your willpower. Good sleep can help your body recover more quickly from exercise or injury, reduce weight, and lift your spirits.
A well-rested brain is significantly better equipped to focus and learn than a tired brain in a tired body. People who keep a healthy sleep schedule (often including short naps) show better knowledge retention and higher levels of productivity than their sleep deprived counterparts.
More energy and a better mood can generate more drive and enthusiasm for work. Add to the equation increased productivity and focus and you will literally notice yourself working smarter, not harder. Those who are well rested also tend to have better impulse control and thus avoid unnecessary or unwise purchases. The result is a complete package—improved work ethic and capability, ability to handle responsibility, and more smarts with a checkbook—that can help you increase your bottom line almost effortlessly.
Wealth and wisdom may actually go hand in hand in the case of sleep. A well-rested individual on a regular sleep schedule tends to feel less anxiety and to reason more deliberately and rationally. With three weeks or a month of regular, quality sleep under your belt, you may notice increased focus and mental capacity can make you feel cleverer than you have in years.
Getting a good night’s sleep is hands-down the best long-term gift you can give yourself. Go to bed early, rise early, sleep eight or nine hours, and you increase your chances of being significantly better off than your sleep-deprived friends and colleagues within the month. Isn’t it worth a try?
Author Bio: Amber Merton is a health and fitness enthusiast and writes about better health and sleep for the latex mattress manufacturer, Plushbeds.com.