If you knew just how much sleep actually mattered to your physical and mental health, then you might take more time to consider how you could fix your own sleep schedule and achieve a happier and healthier life. Let’s take a moment to talk about just how important sleep actually is, why your sleep might not be as good as it could be, and what you can do in order to enjoy better sleep in the future.

This is your brain on sleep (and off of it)

Human beings, like many animals, sleep. Sleep is how our body rests and recharges. When we get enough sleep, our minds and bodies function better.

The benefits of a good night’s sleep are extensive, and we’re still discovering and proving new ways in which sleep helps our minds and bodies. We already know that good sleep can make us happier and more energetic. People who get enough sleep can think more clearly, and their relationships with others benefit, too, thanks to their clear heads and better disposition.

What if, on the other hand, you did not get enough sleep? Well, the consequences of poor sleep are as numerous as the benefits of getting great sleep. When you fail to get the proper amount of sleep, you’re likely to feel stressed and distracted. You won’t think as clearly, which can lead to mistakes that hurt you physically and mentally. Poor sleep patterns can lead to everything from weight gain to lower grades in school.

The facts are clear— we should all be getting the recommended amount of sleep. For adults, that’s 7-9 hours. But many of us don’t. What’s going on?

What is disrupting your sleep habits?

If you’re not getting good sleep, there could be a number of reasons why.

For one thing, good sleep requires the right environment. You’ll want a comfortable bed and a calm, quiet space. Light should be minimal — in fact, it’s best to avoid certain types of light even in the hours leading up to your bedtime.

Alcohol can be a wonderful part of our lives, but it’s best to drink in moderation. Alcohol can disrupt your sleep and cause the sleep you do get to be of a worse quality.

Sleep can also be disrupted by sleep disorders. Sleep disorders are much more common than you might think, explain experts at a sleep disorders institute. And many people who suffer from sleep disorders don’t actually know that they have one. If you feel you’re getting poor sleep or inadequate rest from your sleep, you should speak to your doctor.

How to get better sleep and be a happier, healthier person

Examine your sleeping area and make sure that you have a comfortable, dark, and quiet place to rest. Look at your drinking habits, too. Don’t want to give up the booze? The experts at Joe Canal’s, a liquor store in Woodbridge, NJ, have a suggestion: drip nicer stuff, and less of it. Use mixers to create drinks that are lighter in alcohol, and time your drinks such that you’re sober when it’s time for sleep.

You should also work with health professionals to get better sleep. Talk to your doctor and scheduled an appointment to test whether you have a sleep disorder. If you do, working with medical experts could help you enormously.

Finally, consider your sleeping patterns and circadian rhythm. Getting sleep isn’t just about sleeping for as long as you need to: it’s about sleeping at the right times. Try to go to sleep and wake up at the same times every day. Combined with the other tips we’ve listed, this is likely to help you sleep better in both quantity and quality.

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