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So now that you have a basic blueprint on which to build your health. Nothing fancy – just solid advice based on solid evidence. But now let’s get into some of the other factors that affect your health.
Study after study keeps rolling out saying the same thing: for good health and prevention of disease, you HAVE to get a good night’s sleep on a regular basis. It is estimated that people should try to get 7-9 hours of sleep most nights with minimal interruptions. It prevents heart disease, stroke, cancer, dementia, etc, etc. Sleep is a vital part of your body’s repair processes – you’ll die from lack of sleep before you die from lack of food. So do it. And here’s how:
Keep your bedtime the same as often as possible. This lets your body’s internal clock settle into a pattern of being awake and then sleeping.
Have a routine that prepares you for sleep. This also lets the body and brain know that sleep is approaching and will react accordingly. Things like bathing, reading, meditation, physical intimacy and a whole host of other things can be built into your routine – just make sure they ultimately wind you down for the night. So NO stimulants of any kind (chemical, physical, etc.).
Reduce exposure to light and electronics an hour before bedtime. Your eyes and brain use light as a signal to decide when to sleep and when to wake up. Therefore if you reduce the exposure to light (dim the lights, turn off the TV, etc) you send the signal that it’s time for some shut-eye (anyone who’s been camping can attest to this – an hour or two after sunset and you are crawling into your sleeping bag). This may also include getting black-out curtains if the sun rises long before your wake-time.
If you do wake up and can’t get back to sleep straight away, have something relaxing to do by the bed to lull your mind back into a sleepy state. Examples like reading and meditation are good ideas. Work, TV and turning on the lights are usually bad ideas.
If you can’t sleep because your to-do list keeps popping into your head, keep a pen and paper next to the bed. Often just writing these things down is enough to keep them from stressing you out.