The Conscious Corner by Maceo Keeling –
Generally, this column asks you to “Wake Up”—but you can’t do that if you haven’t enjoyed a night of refreshing, high-quality rest and rejuvenation. You need to “wake up” from a good night’s sleep!
Sleep is essential for good health and a happy, active life, but we often overlook the importance of sufficient sleep as a necessary part of our daily activity. We also forget the need to prepare for going to sleep—and have the right “equipment.”
If you have ever worked out consistently then you know what fitness feels like, and the benefits: a healthful heart rate, great energy level, and ease of movement in daily activities. In the same way, sufficient restful sleep offers immediate and long-term health benefits: mental alertness, increased athletic performance, reduced stress, improved moods, and, most important of all, rejuvenation. (Sleep helps the skin remain elastic—that’s where the term “beauty sleep” comes from—and that improves your overall appearance.) You also think more clearly and get along with people better.
And just as you get flabby, tired, and unhealthy if you don’t stay physically active, depriving yourself of sufficient sleep has negative effects—on both your health and your appearance. How attractive do you think you are to others when you are constantly yawning, in a bad disposition, moody, forgetful, or depressed?
But good sleep habits, like working out, have to be practiced consistently. You need to treat planning, preparing for, and enjoying sleep just like a workout.
Many studies have shown that we need eight or nine hours of sleep nightly—the amount most people got before the light bulb was invented. Back then, when the sun went down, it was a sign that work had to cease and rest begin.
So how do you get the right amount of health-inducing, rejuvenating sleep?
First, the equipment. You should invest in a good bed that gives you both support and comfort—easy enough, and affordable, with today’s technology. The mattress should be firm, and pillows should elevate your head slightly—but not enough to bury you. Cool sheets (linen or cotton rather than synthetics) allow your body to breathe instead of heat up overnight, and a blanket should be just enough to keep the chill off, not cocoon you like a sauna.
The other challenge is you. Make sleep a priority in your life. Here are some tips.
First, if you have a bed and are physically mobile, get in it! No sleeping on a chair or the couch if you have a bed. Why? So you can relax your entire body and turn over as needed.
Second, quiet your sleep space: no television, no texting, no emails or tweets for at least 15 minutes before turning out the light. The blue light from electronic devices literally stimulates parts of your brain that keep you from relaxing—so let them go.
Third, no eating in bed. If you have a late-night snack, make it very light and healthful, like fruit. Just a very few grapes or berries—not even half a handful—is ideal, and almost as good as not snacking at all.
Finally, make your bed a spiritual space so peace prevails there. If you believe in God, say your prayers and let them fly, don’t hold onto them. Or address the universe, Mother Nature, or humanity, if that’s your thing, or just be grateful for the preceding day, and for tomorrow—and with that, let go of the daily stuff and be in peace.
You’ll wake up rested, refreshed, and glad you did!
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