What are the effects of sleep on your happiness?

Happy woman laying on bedSleep. We need it. Unfortunately I am quite prone to sleep deprivation, simply because my mind always decides to work and work and work the minute I get into my bed. And that’s tiring because before I know it I have another short night (4 or 5 hours) under my belt resulting in a grumpy, moody Dimphh. Now, you don’t want to be on the receiving end of a grumpy and moody Dimphh, believe me ;-). Happiness is, without a doubt, linked to good rest. Your body needs time to reset, to heal and to process whatever has been happening to you on the day that you have experienced.

So – what exactly does occur in your body when you have less sleep? Actually, quite a lot:

For example, the emotional center of your brain (also called amygdala) is less held in check by your prefrontal cortex. The amygdala is responsible for the fight or flight feelings like anger, fear and stress. Without a good sleep, the amygdala is 60% more reactive which means you’ll have a bigger chance of having mood swings or volatile responses to any daily interactions.

Then, you probably also know that less sleep leads to a less alert feeling. That’s true! When we are awake, our little brain’s neuron’s create adenosine. As this builds up we start to feel drowsy and normally we need our sleep to clear up this build-up pile of adenosine.

Last but not least, sleep will also literally influence your brain tissue! Poor sleeping is actually linked to deterioration of parts of your brain tissue.

If you are still not convinced though – I have here also some numbers:

  • 65% of adults who sleep over 7 hours every night report perfect mental health.
  • Only 27% of adults who get 7-8 hours sleep report feeling overwhelmed and stressed, opposed to 40% of the adults who sleep less than 8 hours.
  • 50% of adults report losing patience or yelling at their partner without good sleep
  • And 52% of adults report yelling at their kids when they have less than 8 hours sleep.

So – bottom line: good sleep is pure happiness!

 

So what are the basic rules to get a good sleep at night? There are so many ways on how to achieve this. In an earlier post I’ve already written on the effect of a calm and serene environment in your bedroom. Environment saves at least half of your rest so go and Feng Shui your bedroom away. It will actually help.

A few other things that you could also try:

  • Get a sleep schedule and try to keep to it. Your biological clock needs the rhythm in order to prepare your body for a good nights rest. So try to wake up and go to bed at the same time.
  • Keep a sleep diary. This will help you provide more insights on your rhythm and will help you find what you can improve or which habits you should let go.
  • Exercise but not within 4 hours of bed time. I bet you didn’t see that coming ;-). I feel it though when I come back from my softball practice or, yesterday when I came back from my boxing class, I definitely need some time to come down and get relaxed. Take. That. Time. Seriously.
  • Meditation. Honestly, this has been a great help for me. I’ve started meditation about two weeks ago and it’s helping to calm down, as well as switch of the storm of thoughts that pop up in my mind. I try a Yoga Nidra meditation or something simple like an 10-minute affirmation meditation. If you need support with that, Insight Timer is a great little app to help you here.
  • Stay cool. I’ve mentioned it before – fresh oxygen is necessary and opening the window in your bedroom also really helps keeping the temperature in your room down, which again results in a good sleep.

 

Apart from above tips, there’s also one very very important tip. If you can’t sleep, don’t start counting how many hours you still have left and watch your clock all the time. This will only get your anxiety up, ending up making yourself more and more active. Instead, the best thing you can do is just restart your pre-sleep pattern; get up and out of bed, make yourself a cup of tea and a sandwich (peanutbutter sandwiches are a charm for me) and just spent 30 minutes outside of your bedroom. Read a bit, watch a bit of television or just enjoy a few moments for you. Than re-start your pre-sleep procedure (brushing your teeth, turning of the lights etc) and get back into bed. Almost for certain, you will drift away almost instantly.

 

Now – it differs per person how much sleep you need during the night. If you are not sure, just try and get a feeling on how you feel and how you act during the day after various hours or sleep. Do you feel shiny-happy after 6 hours of sleep? Then probably 6 hours cuts it for you. If you need, like me, 7-8 hours of sleep, then please try to stick that. It’s not always easy in our busy lives but it’s worth a shot!

Sweet dreams!

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