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Getting Enough Sleep

Here’s Why Getting Enough Sleep is More Important Than We Think

When thinking about supporting health, we often think about diet and exercise, but keeping our health in tip-top shape goes way beyond what we eat or how much we move our bodies. Optimizing our health also means getting enough sleep.

Read on as we break down why getting enough sleep is an essential part of keeping ourselves healthy, how many hours you really need and some tips to getting those quality Zs each night.

Why Getting Enough Sleep is Important

So, what's the big deal about getting enough sleep anyway? Besides the fact that a good night's rest is needed to carry out all of our endless to-do lists each day, here are a handful of reasons the body requires it for optimal functioning and why not getting enough sleep can be dangerous to our health.

Sleep Helps Support Immune Function: Building a robust immune system is something that’s on all of our minds, and getting enough sleep is something we all can do to support a healthy immune system. The body requires sleep in order to fight infection, and studies suggest that not getting enough sleep may increase the risk of getting sick. The good news is that by optimizing your sleep habits, you’ll be doing great things for your immune system and taking a big step in staying healthy throughout the year.

Getting Enough Sleep Helps With Stress & Supports a Better Mood: Ever stay up too late only to wake up crankier than usual? Getting quality sleep each night plays a big role in keeping our moods high and our stress levels in check. If you are dealing with chronic stress in your life, you may even find that you require more sleep than usual, so be sure to prioritize it!

The Body & Brain Need Sleep For Clearer Thinking: There’s a reason why we have all been told to get a good night’s sleep before a big day at work or a big exam at school — getting enough sleep helps us think more clearly. Studies also suggest that sleep plays a key role in helping us retain information and perform better on memory tasks.

How Much Sleep We Get Plays a Role in Food Cravings: Did you know that sleep deprivation has been linked to overeating and even cravings for all the foods we try to avoid (like those sugary treats). Studies suggest that sleep deprivation can cause an increase in ghrelin (the hunger hormone that increases appetite), and a decrease in leptin (the hunger hormone that decreases appetite). Here’s one more reason to make sure that we are getting enough sleep as it may play a bigger role in our eating habits than we think.

How Much Sleep Do We Really Need?

While 7-8 hours of sleep is generally used as the guideline for how much sleep we should be getting, it really varies based on age and other factors like health and stress levels as well.

So, here’s the breakdown of how much sleep we really need each night, according to the National Sleep Foundation.

  • Ages 14-17: 8-10 hours
  • Ages 18-25: 7-9 hours
  • Ages 26-64: 7-9 hours
  • Ages 65+: 7-8 hours

5 Hacks on Improving Sleep Habits

Not getting anywhere close to the recommended hours of sleep per night? Don’t stress — it’s the last thing you’ll want to do as stress may already be a cause of sleep issues in the first place. Simply stop and acknowledge that sleep may be a challenge for you at this time and know that there are steps you can take to improve sleep hygiene.

Here are some simple yet effective ways to make sleep a priority.

#1 Create a Sleep Schedule and Stick to it

Think evening routines are just for kids? Think again! Having a set sleep schedule can make a huge difference in your sleep habits. Start by picking a time you’ll go to bed each night and set aside 30-60 minutes before to just wind down from the day.

Stick to this schedule every single night, even on the days you may be tempted to stay up late and sleep in. The more of a routine you make this, the easier it will be to get those golden hours of sleep.

#2 Stay Away From Electronics Two Hours Before Bed

And speaking of an evening routine, try to stay away from electronics at least two hours before bed as blue light has been shown to suppress the production of melatonin, which may make it more difficult to fall asleep.

If you must be on your computer or tablet before bed, consider investing in blue light blocking glasses.

#3 Set Up Your Room For A Night of Restful Sleep

Sometimes something as simple as investing in blackout curtains, buying a new pillow or comfortable bed sheets, or lowering the temperature in your room is enough to help you get a better night’s rest.

#4 Exercise Regularly

Having a regular exercise routine is essential for all aspects of health, including sleep. Studies suggest that exercise helps improve sleep quality and also helps us fall asleep faster. So, if you don’t already have a regular exercise schedule, consider getting into the habit of moving your body regularly, even if it’s just a 15-minute daily walk!

#5 Consider Paint Color

While this may sound like the last thing that would affect your sleep, there are actually studies that suggest that the color of your bedroom may affect sleep. In fact, studies have shown that blue is the best and most calming color choice to support better sleep, with purple being stimulating and red being energizing.

The takeaway? If you are feeling inspired to paint your bedroom, go for a calming blue. It may just help you get some more Zs.

Make Sleep a Priority

The body needs sleep to rest and repair from all the chaos that goes on in our daily lives every single day. It’s during sleep that the body is also busy synthesizing hormones, repairing muscles and tissues, and taking pieces of information from our short-term memory and putting them into our long-term memory. If we don’t prioritize sleep, all body processes suffer.

So, here’s your invitation to put sleep hygiene at the top of your self-care list this week — because sleep plays just as an important role in improving health as healthy eating and regular exercise.

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