Have you ever stopped to wonder why a bad night’s sleep can make you feel so miserable the next day? Or why deliberately depriving prisoners of sleep is considered one of the worst forms of torture?
For those of us who suffer from an occasional sleepless night, there are many effective, safe and natural remedies available. However, not all insomnia products are created equal – or equally safe – so before popping a “safe” sleeping potion or pill, do a little research into the product. A good place to start is a website like Customer Review, which provides easy-to-understand information about natural insomnia products. Click here for more info.
But what if your insomnia is more chronic? Should you be concerned?
The short answer to that is “yes”. If there is one vitally important component of a healthy lifestyle that seldom achieves the attention it deserves, it’s sleep. Sleep is vital to one’s physical and psychological good health, but research has shown that sleep quality generally declines as we age.
Research has also found that there are many potential health risks for people who do not get enough sleep. These include diabetes and cardiovascular problems. But a lack of sleep, or too little sleep, could also be bad for your waistline. A study conducted at the University of Leeds in the UK found that adults who reported sleeping less than their peers were more likely to be overweight or obese.
There is also a strong association between indicators of depression and poor sleep; while there is also some evidence to suggest that women who have longer sleeping patterns are at reduced risk of developing breast cancer.
How Much Sleep Is Sufficient?
That doesn’t mean that one should sleep excessively. According to the Leeds study, how much sleep each person needs differs, but the consensus is that between seven to nine hours is best for most adults. Another nine-year study in the US showed that people who sleep less than six hours a night as well as those who sleep for longer than nine hours every night are more likely to die early.
Nevertheless, too little sleep appears to be riskier than having too much
In order to ensure one gets sufficient sleep on a regular basis, it might be necessary to develop a regular sleep routine such as keeping one’s sleeping times as regular as possible, doing the same things before going to bed, and relaxing before turning out the light.
Exercise and Sleep
Exercise could be a natural and safe antidote to insomnia. While one should avoid vigorous exercise before bed, exercise three to four hours earlier will help you to sleep. In fact, regular exercise and getting fit is an important contributor to improving the quality of one’s sleep.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, “exercise triggers an increase in body temperature”. It is believed that the drop in temperature that occurs once exercise stops, may promote falling asleep. Exercise may also reduce insomnia by decreasing anxiety and depressive symptoms. It is also believed to have a positive effect on one’s body clock (circadian rhythms).
Exercise also contributes to other factors associated with a healthy lifestyle including weight management, as regular physical activity increases one’s metabolic rate and the number of calories the body uses, even up to three hours after the exercise session ends.
Regular exercise has other benefits too – both physical and psychological. It can lower one’s blood pressure, blood cholesterol, and blood sugar and thus reduce one’s risk of stroke, heart disease, and diabetes. From a psychological perspective, it can help to reduce stress, relieve depression, improve one’s sense of wellbeing; and improve one’s sleep patterns.
Everyone should try and get at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise every day. Aerobic exercise is any activity that makes your heart and lungs work harder to bring in more oxygen and send blood to the muscles – for example, walking, running, jogging, cycling, rowing, swimming or even vigorous dancing.
You also need to improve your muscle strength, endurance, flexibility and balance through other types of exercises such as weight lifting and stretching.
Finding time to exercise every day can be difficult for people with busy schedules, but there are solutions: walk to the shop rather than drive; take the stairs rather than the elevator; park your car a 10-minute walk from work; and take a short, brisk walk during your meal break.
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