As science advances on issues related to mental health, it is becoming clear that the importance of restful sleep is crucial.
It’s not just about not feeling bad in the morning and performing better while working or studying; furthermore, something as simple as not sleeping well for several months increases the chances of developing a wide variety of psychological disorders, and even certain diseases that go beyond the functioning of the nervous system and affect other parts. from the body.
that’s why it is crucial to adopt some simple habits that allow us to sleep better and make the most of the hours of rest. Even if you have trouble falling asleep.
Why is it important to have restful sleep?
It is no accident that we spend a large part of the day sleeping. In nature, it has been seen that virtually all vertebrate animals need to sleep with a frequency similar to that of humans; even those species which, due to their biological characteristics, do not rest when we go into a state of numbness, in some cases causing the two halves of the brain to take turns sleeping (as happens, for example) , with dolphins).
This is due to something relatively simple: with complex nervous systems it is necessary to have a self-sustaining system up to the task. This is why our bodies have evolved to be active at certain times of the day and inactive the rest of the time. And the best way to take advantage of this stage where it makes no sense to go out looking for resources or to bond with others is to put an end to a nervous system that is charging energies and reorganizing its functioning.
In fact, it is believed that one of the reasons why we need to sleep is not only to prepare our networks of interconnected nerve cells so that they can cope with a new day, but also the phase of sleep us. helps us consolidate in our long-term memory useful content that we have learned over the previous hours, consciously or unconsciously.
This is consistent with what we know from neuroscience research: When we sleep, not only does our nervous system not go out, but we can hardly tell that it is much less active than when we are awake. At this point, millions of neurons begin to send electrical signals to each other in a coordinated fashion, and nerve activation patterns are generated that give names to the different stages of sleep: the REM stage and the non-REM stage, which at its turn is divided into other phases. The human brain is made to take advantage of these hours to go through these phases and let the neural interconnections readjust to each other, seeking the best possible setup for dawn with charged batteries and a clear mind.
The keys to better and restorative sleep
Now that we’ve seen how far from wasted hours sleeping is time, let’s take a look at some tips for better sleep. In order to do this you will need to start incorporating these habits into your daily routine, and while at first it will require a certain level of commitment, if you do it right, it is very possible that after several months you will. . come out automatically, without premeditation coming into play.
1. Coffee, only in the morning
The psychoactive power of caffeine should not be underestimated: the introduction of this substance into our system will have effects even if we are not immediately aware of it. For that, it is best to maintain some discipline in consuming caffeinated beverages, Do everything possible so that it is inconceivable to take it in the second half of the day.
2. Practice mindfulness
In many studies, mindfulness has been shown to be effective in dealing with certain experiences related to anxiety and even pain. Therefore, if you notice that there is something that worries you and you turn your head, or if you have a health problem that is causing you some discomfort, you can try this kind of inspired meditation practice. Of course it is advisable to receive training from a professional psychologistSo that it teaches you the basics and from there you can apply them in your daily life. Psychologists can help a lot in this regard.
3. Respect your place of rest
Not all of the keys to better sleep are in controlling what goes on inside our body – the environment also influences, and a lot. Take the time to see which elements of the room you sleep in at work and which don’t work when it comes to getting good quality sleep. Sometimes the ultimate solution is something as simple as stopping and realizing that you have to expose yourself less to the lantern light coming in through the window or buy a more comfortable mattress.
Also, if you notice that you are having trouble falling asleep, try not to stay in bed for several hours to do activities unrelated to rest, such as eating or using a laptop. This way you associate this place with what you see and feel each time you go to sleep.
4. Keep a good exercise program
If you are used to going to the gym, jogging, or playing any type of sport, be careful not to do so during the hours before bed. If you don’t follow this pattern you will likely end up “cheating” your body, so believe that dinner time is still a time when the environment can offer challenges that require physical exertion.
As a result, when the time comes for the night when we try to fall asleep, the activated state of our nervous system and our endocrine (hormonal) system will simply not leave us, And we won’t sleep until much later.
5. Have a good work schedule
Just as it is important to be careful when exercising, you also need to take some control over your work hours. This is so for two reasons. On the one hand, working mentally activates us, even when for our profession what we do is fundamentally an intellectual task. It’s true that writing a report shortly before going to bed doesn’t mean the same for our quality of sleep as spending that time going out for a while, but even so, it will likely put us in a position. a little more difficult to start. sleep at the right time, because our brains will be more “turned on”.
On the other hand, if we allow work to gradually enter the schedule of what our free time should be, it will be easier over the days that we accumulate tasks (by the domino effect) and than having to go to bed late. becomes the norm, not the exception.
- Freeman, D. et al. at. (2017). The effects of improved sleep on mental health (OASIS): a randomized controlled trial with mediated analysis. Lancet Psychiatry, 4 (10): pages 749-758.