The Best Sleep of Your Life Is Now Why sleep should be a top priority

One in three adults do not get enough sleep on a regular basis, according to the CDC. In a world of screen time, processed foods, and a general push to be more productive, this is hardly surprising.

People are spending less time socializing and more time at home in front of screens. Kids’ screen time has risen nearly 50%, according to an Axios report. The average adult spends more than 3.5 hours on their smartphone each day. Adults working remotely, tuning into Zoom calls, and using their free time to escape into Netflix and Hulu are also common trends. They’re also working longer hours from home: data shows the average workday is 48.5 minutes longer, and this “always on” mentality is also making it difficult to switch off at night.

Excessive screen time, especially in the evening, has also been shown to disrupt healthy sleep patterns. It stimulates the brain and makes it hard to relax, plus the blue light that’s common in LED screens may inhibit natural melatonin production (the hormone that tells your brain it’s time to sleep). Diets that are high in sugar and low in fiber are also a common culprit in a lack of restorative sleep.

What’s more, the pandemic has taken a toll on many people’s mental health, which can disrupt normal sleep patterns. There’s still so much we don’t know about this pandemic, including how much longer it’s going to last. Such uncertainty brings anxiety that allows our minds to race and keeps our bodies tossing and turning in bed.

One recent study found that the rates of depression tripled during the pandemic. A decrease in sleep

and an increase in alcohol consumption likely helped to fuel this spike.

Sleep has always been important to good health. But especially now, sleep is too important to our mental well-being and immune system for us to ignore.

Why Sleep Should Be a Top Priority

Even the most superhuman of us need quality sleep, at least seven hours or more each 24-hour cycle for adults. Sleep fuels an effective immune system. When we get consistent sleep, our body’s defenses against illness get stronger. Some studies have even found that a lack of sleep might make vaccines less effective.

Sleep also empowers our mental health. According to the Sleep Foundation, a lack of sleep has been scientifically linked with mental health disorders like anxiety, bipolar disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

When you sleep, especially during REM sleep, your brain is cleansing itself of toxins, organizing your memories, and processing experiences. When this cycle isn’t carried out due to lack of quality sleep, it creates a number of effects: You might feel hungrier. You could have mood swings. It increases your risk of high blood pressure or stroke. Yes, sleep is that important to keep your body functioning.

So what do you do when your habits, environment, and the pandemic are preventing you from sleeping soundly?

How to Build Healthy Sleep Habits

Much of what we do to live a healthy lifestyle requires forming healthy habits. We make it a habit to balance our diet and exercise daily, for example. Sleep is no different. There are several small changes we can make to our schedule and routine that may help us rest better at night.

There are tons of resources, tips, and guidance for a better night’s sleep, from meditation to prescription drugs. Some of the most common solutions include exercise, reduction in screen time, taking a warm bath before bedtime, and consuming warm foods and drinks.

These include:

  • Turning off screens 1-2 hours prior to bed
  • Going to bed at a consistent time each night
  • Waking up at the same time each morning
  • Limit caffeine intake during the day
  • Avoid taking naps, or keeping naps short
  • Use your bedroom only for sleep
  • Don’t work in bed or spend time on your electronic devices
  • Avoid alcohol, especially before bed
  • Quit smoking (nicotine is a stimulant)
  • Get at least 1-2 hours of physical activity during the day
  • Avoid eating a large meal right before bed (a small snack is fine)
  • Establish a bedtime routine to signal to your brain it’s almost time for bed

Whatever changes you choose to make, be consistent with them and give them enough time to work. Making small changes like these consistently may add up to major sleep benefits over time.

Sleep Supplements Are Trending, Too

Many people are using sleep supplements to augment their efforts toward a better night’s sleep.Another solution: use a sleep supplement to help you travel to dreamland with ease.

Sleep is in high demand. Data from Consumer Reports and BBC Research shows that Americans spent $41 billion on sleep aids in 2015, a sum that was expected to grow to $52 billion by 2020. This same report indicated that 27% of adults say they struggle to fall asleep or stay asleep most nights, while 68% say they have these same struggles at least one night per week. And a third of those surveyed had used a sleep drug or supplement in the previous year.

Sleep is a highly popular niche for supplement companies. Melatonin supplements are the fastest growing supplement in terms of sales. An article from Full Script noted that melatonin sales in 2019 increased by 13% compared to the previous year.

And given the sleeplessness that now seems to plague even more Americans during this pandemic, it’s likely that the sleep supplement market growth rate will set new records.

Sleep is an important piece of the overall health puzzle, which is why many people struggling with sleep take supplements to fill the gaps. Some of the most popular ones include chamomile,vitamin b6, magnesium, and valerian root, and of course melatonin. These supplements are all associated with reducing feelings of anxiety, improved mood, and calming effects all of which can help people sleep better.

There’s never been a better time to make healthy sleep a priority. Building good sleep habits and using supplements when necessary can help you get back on track to a restful night and a better morning.

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