Sleep is essential. Whilst you sleep, the body starts to work, recovering from the day’s activities, healing damaged cells, recharging your heart and cardiovascular system and boosting your immune system. Sleep is therefore just as important to our bodies as breathing, eating and drinking.
Sleep helps us to recover from both physical and mental exertion. It can improve productivity and overall quality of life.
How can I get a better night’s sleep?
- Try to stick to a routine. Ideally, go to bed and get up at the same time each day. This helps to programme the brain and internal body clock to get used to a set routine. Most adults need between six and nine hours of sleep every night. By working out what time you need to wake up, you can set a regular bedtime schedule.
- Limit day time naps as this can reduce sleeping at night. If you need to nap, try to limit them to 15 to 20 minutes in the early afternoon.
- Ensure adequate exposure to natural light in the day. Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone controlled by light exposure that helps regulate your sleep-wake cycle so we need to see natural light in the day and darkness at night to sleep well.
- Avoid stimulants such as caffeine, nicotine and dark chocolate close to bed time.
- Relax and unwind before bed. A warm bath before bed can help to relax the body and prepare for going to sleep.
- Avoid strenuous activity/exercise close to bedtime. Research shows that regular exercise throughout the day can promote a better night’s sleep but exercise close to bedtime will will stimulate the body and keep you awake.
- Try Meditation before bed to relax and clear the mind, for example, Headspace
- Avoid watching TV or using your phone/iPad 30 minutes before going to sleep as this stimulates the mind, especially computer games.
- Reading a book before bed can relax the mind and help to switch off from the day
- Keep the bedroom dark and quiet at night. Using ear plugs can help to block any noise and turning off any electrical equipment can reduce any lights in the room. Covering a bright clock can also help.
- Clear the mind by writing a to do list to organise your thoughts for the next day instead of constantly thinking about them whilst trying to sleep.
- Room temperature should ideally be kept between 18 and 24 degrees for best sleeping conditions.
- Try to avoid heavy or rich foods, fatty or fried meals and carbonated drinks close to bed time. These can trigger indigestion and heartburn that disrupts sleep.
- Dim the lights around your home 2 to 3 hours before bedtime. Lower light levels signal your brain to make melatonin, the hormone that brings on sleep.
A good nights sleep is essential for everyone so try the tips above to improve your sleeping patterns. A better sleep can reduce stress, lower blood pressure, decrease anxiety, improve memory and mood and sets you up for a great productive day ahead.