Many of us who have been around for a while can recall the old spring-wound wristwatches that were once quite popular. While the more expensive ones kept excellent time, the cheaper makes had a common problem. They would run fast for a while after being wound up, and then gradually fall behind as the tension in the spring lessened. They were annoying, to say the least, but looking back on them, they offer an important insight for those looking for ways to get better sleep;namely this: it’s only natural to wind down for a while before coming to a full stop.
How Modern Life Keeps Us Constantly Wound Up
Does this sound like you? You’re roused from slumber by loud music or an annoying electronic sound. You hop out of bed, rush about your home getting ready for work, wolf down some food, and leave just in time to get to your job before your shift begins. During the day, you run around like a chicken on caffeine pills, trying to stay on top of your daily responsibilities.
Then, when you finally leave, you have plenty of other things that keep you busy for hours more – maybe kids, classes, a second job, or chores and errands. You run full speed ahead till you finally collapse in bed, only to find that you toss and turn until you finally doze off. You get a few hours of fitful rest, and then it all begins again.
If this sounds even remotely familiar, then you’re in very good company. Studies show that tens of millions of Americans live their lives non-stop until bedtime, allowing no time to wind down from the pressures of the day. It’s no wonder that so many of us have to use pills or other methods to knock ourselves out when bedtime finally arrives.
The High Cost of Higher Productivity
We get a lot of things done by following this hectic pace day in and day out. American workers are among the most productive on earth, according to countless studies, but all of those accomplishments come at a heavy price. Here are some sobering facts about our collective state of health:
- According to the Centers for Disease Control, 68 million Americans, or 1/3 of the national population, have high blood pressure. This condition is a major cause of chronic ailments such as heart disease, diabetes, and stroke, which together kill over 800,000 of us every year.
- The above statistics paint an even grimmer picture when we include other effects of our national lifestyle. For example, sleep deprivation and prolonged stress have been linked to many forms of cancer, which takes almost 600,000 lives annually. Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia end the lives of 80,000 people a year in the US alone. They are made worse by a high-tension, high-adrenalin, low-sleep lifestyle, according to a growing number of medical researchers.
- A study done by the National Sleep Foundation and Harvard University found that half of all drivers have fallen asleep at the wheel at least once. Every day, 250,000 motorists nod off at some point while driving. This is a direct cause of over 1,500 vehicular deaths and 40,000 traffic injuries annually. These facts don’t include many thousands of other accidents caused by the symptoms of sleep deprivation, including those caused by drowsy or inattentive persons operating machinery or performing other tasks.
The purpose of sharing these facts with you isn’t to keep you awake or raise your stress level even more. It’s to alert you to just how important it is to get as much quality sleep as possible. Now that you know the facts, here’s a look at one of the most effective ways to get better sleep each night.
Give Yourself Time to Wind Down
Like those old-fashioned watches mentioned earlier, we each have an internal “spring” that governs how fast we run. As long as it’s tightly wound, our rest will do us little good, but we can change things by coaxing it into winding down a bit, reducing our stress levels, and helping sleep to come gently, naturally, and sooner than it otherwise would. Here are some tips for how to do this:
- Set a time at the end of your day to sit or lie down. Ideally, it should last an hour or two, and you should do whatever you can to allow yourself that much time. Alter your schedule, readjust your priorities, or even let go of some commitments if you can; find a way to make it part of your daily life, if at all possible.
- If you can’t afford that much time no matter what you try, then still have a winding down period at day’s end, even if it’s only a few minutes.
- Use the time to do something that’s both pleasurable and relaxing. Country folks used to sit on the front porch and sip lemonade after the daily chores were over. You might choose to do so yourself. Or you might opt for a cup of herbal tea and some light jazz on your music player. All that matters is that it slows you down and calms any tensions you might feel.
- To enhance the calming effect, try some relaxation exercises. Tense your muscles then let go, paying attention to the way they feel as they go loose and limp. Take several long, deep, very slow breaths, keeping your eyes closed at the same time.
- A special note about watching TV: it might go along great with your wind-down time. Then again, it might not. Do what works for you, but avoid the news and shows with fast-paced or violent content. Otherwise, your adrenalin response might kick in, and you’ll defeat the purpose you’re trying to achieve.
- Give your daily winding down ritual enough time to take effect and become a habit. It might be weeks before your body responds, but eventually, it will pick up on the signals you’re sending it and start relaxing on cue.
These ways to get better sleep may be hard to follow at first, but the results will be worth the effort. People who make purposeful relaxation a part of their lifestyles enjoy greater levels of physical and mental health, and as a whole, they also enjoy longer lives. Also, despite what you might think, they actually get more done during their working hours than those who don’t relax as much as they do. Their bodies and minds work faster, with enhanced concentration, emotional stability, and other qualities that can assist you, no matter how you earn your pay.
Having the Right Sleep Environment is Very Important
If you’re having trouble getting the sleep you need, then part of the problem might be the surface you lie down on every night. An uncomfortable regular or adjustable bed mattress can turn what should be blissful slumber into a painful or frustrating experience. So take a few minutes to browse our line of affordable, top-quality products. Read the reviews, compare prices, and contact us with any questions you might have. Then place your order using our secure online form, and get ready for the rest of your life with Parklane products.