After a long day at work, juggling what seems like one too many responsibilities, and chasing after children, you’ve finally made it to the end of your day. Now, you’re snuggled in your bed, cocooned in blankets, and closing your eyes waiting for the miracle of sleep to wash over you. Even though you’re about to get a much needed break, your brain is going to be hard at work playing catch-up.
During the night our brain cycles through different stages of sleep. These different stages of sleep help our brains process and store information that we encountered during the day. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that children get about 10 hours of sleep and adults get about 8 hours of sleep per night. This amount of sleep allows our brains an adequate amount of time to store memories and repair itself. If we don’t reach our recommended amount of sleep, then we put ourselves at risk for sleep deprivation.
While as a culture we might joke about not getting enough resting time, sleep deprivation can cause an array of health problems. A common symptom of mild sleep deprivation is the inability to focus. Harvard Medical School explains that a lack of sleep results in our brain cells, neurons, becoming overworked. Overworked neurons cannot function correctly and this results in lower levels of focus, attention, and an inability to access information stored in our brains.
To ensure that our brains are functioning at peak performance, it is important to get enough sleep as well as make sure that we are getting the best quality of sleep possible. Sleep hygiene describes the habits and practices a person performs before going to bed. Practicing good sleep hygiene will help you and your brain wake up in the morning feeling refreshed.
5 Tips for a Better Night’s Rest
- Avoid Caffeine. Caffeine helps you feel awake by altering your brain chemistry and blocking receptors in the brain that make you feel tired. Drinking caffeine can help you get going in the morning, but it’s a good idea to avoid drinking caffeine in the afternoon and evening because it will inhibit your brain’s natural ability to fall asleep.
- Only Use Your Bed to Sleep. Our brains are really good at making associations. If you only use your bed to sleep then whenever you are in your bed, your brain will know it needs to release chemicals that make you tired. However, if you do work in your bed, then your brain will associate your bed with increased brain activity and this can decrease quality of sleep.
- Don’t Use Electronics Right Before Bed. Electronic devices such as cell phones, computers, and televisions emit blue light from their screens. Blue light interferes with the production of the brain chemical melatonin, which is the chemical responsible for helping us fall and stay asleep. If you want to play our training games or check your email, finish half an hour before bedtime.
- Bedtime Routine. Doing the same calming routine before bed every night helps signal to your brain that it’s time to settle down and get ready to go to sleep. Listening to calming music can help slow down brain activity and taking a warm bath can increase body temperature with naturally makes you feel more tired.
- Have a Bedtime. Having a bedtime helps program our circadian rhythm. Our circadian rhythm is responsible for making us feel awake in the day time and sleepy during the night. Having a set bedtime allows our brain know what time of day we should start to feel tired and allows us to get a better night’s rest.
What tips do you use to give your brain a rest? Let us know in the comments!