There have been many articles talking about the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. Most involve eating healthily and exercising regularly, but one important part of a healthy lifestyle is getting a good night’s sleep. Every cell in our body needs sleep to function properly and recover from the day’s events. According to National Geographic, only an estimated 20% of people get the recommended 8 hours of sleep a night and modern life is taking its toll on that number. The article states, “A 2009 Gallup poll showed that 66 percent of Americans think that lack of sleep affects their daily activities at least some of the time.” According to Sleepdex 3.0 (2011), “There are dozens of important body systems that are controlled by your biological clock. Even relatively simple things like the need to go to sleep or eat can be regulated by the brain’s master clock.”
Lack of sleep affects our concentration in school which may, in turn, affect our grades. Sleep deprivation in teenagers showed a link between bad grades and staying up late. According to an article in the journal Pediatrics, “Teens who stay up late cramming for tests may not be studying as efficiently as they think.” The study also found that students with B grades averaged 7 hours and 20 minutes of sleep per night while A-grade students got more than 8 hours of sleep each night. But there are ways to improve your sleep that you will benefit from immensely. Keep a regular sleep and wake schedule, including on weekends: Try to keep the same bedtime and wake-up time every day of the week. If you cannot fall asleep within 15 minutes, get up and do something relaxing until you feel sleepy. Go back to bed when you are tired or sleepy. Establish and stick to a relaxing bedtime routine: A bath, reading, meditation or another calming activity before bed can promote sleepiness. Avoid activities with a screen (TV, iPad, etc.)
You can also create a comfortable sleep environment: A cool, dark, and quiet room is conducive to sleep. Use heavy curtains or blinds to block out light from the street. Earplugs can help reduce noise if needed. White noise machines can also be helpful in blocking out distracting sounds. Exercise daily, but not within three hours of bedtime: The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends exercise because it can promote better sleep. However, exercising too close to bedtime may energize you rather than relax you. Additionally, avoid caffeine and alcohol close to bedtime: Caffeinated drinks in the afternoon and evening can interfere with sleep. Alcohol may initially make you feel sleepy, but it interrupts the later stages of your sleep and can lead to restless nights. Finally, make sleep a priority in your life: Get on a regular schedule and avoid doing activities such as watching TV or working on the computer at bedtime. Go to bed only when you feel sleepy and avoid getting into bed until you feel tired.