Have you ever thought how you prepare for sleep? I’m not talking about brushing your teeth or putting on those super stylish pajama pants you’ve had for eternity. I’m referring to what you might do 10 to 15 minutes before you retire for the night. Why I ask is because sleep is vital to optimum performance whether you’re a mom, a father of six kids, or a 5th grade elementary school student. Sleep provides an optimal window of time to shut out all external stimuli like stress from work or that amazing The Walking Dead episode.
While you sleep, important events happen in regards to function of your body both mentally and physically. During sleep, your brain forms short term and long term memories through the strengthening of a synapse (think of improving the electrical wiring in your house.) With proper sleep, you are more likely to recall memories the next day more easily. Physically, repairing of the intervertebral discs occurs as nutrients are absorbed back into the disc for proper structural support for the vertebra. Other proposed functions of sleep include, detoxification of the brain from free radicals (linked to a wide array of diseases and cancers) and glycogen (energy storage) replacement. Pretty amazing right?!
So now you know how important quality sleep is, here are a few things that one should NOT do 10 to 15 minutes before bedtime… eat or drink something, watch TV, look at a computer or cell phone. Eating or drinking increases the likelihood of a person disrupting sleep and using the bath room. Your brain senses when the bladder is nearing fullness thus triggering you to wake up in the middle of the night to use the restroom. Not only will you have to wake up in the middle of the night, but you might even have the pleasure of stubbing your toe in the process. When getting ready to sleep, I personally prefer to be in a state of relaxation and calm; but, when electronics are used, the opposite of both happens. Watching TV can keep you from sleeping by provoking a variety of emotions, like excitation or sadness. Both stimulate various areas of the brain. The light from your TV or electronics also stimulates or tricks the brain into thinking the brain is in a state of wakefulness. Studies show melatonin (the sleep hormone) levels drop significantly in the presence of ANY kind of light, so try to refrain from watching The Shawshank Redemption rerun before bedtime.
Habits are hard to break; but, if you try to refrain from or reduce these habits, you might be well on your way to a wonderful and productive morning. Sweet dreams!