A good night’s sleep is just as essential as regular exercise and a healthy diet.
Over the past few decades, sleep quality among the adult population has declined at an alarming level. According to recent studies carried out by the Sleep Council and NHS UK, 40% of UK adults suffer from sleep issues.
Research shows that sleeping fewer than seven hours per night increases the risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, unhealthy eating habits. Sleep deprivation can also cause impairments in short and long term memory, decision making, attention, and reaction time.
Increased and better sleep, on the other hand, can lower stress, and improve memory. Improved sleep also affects our immune systems, encourages better eating habits and weight management.
If you want to improve your health and wellbeing, getting a good night’s sleep is one of the most important things you can do.
Here are some proven tips to help you sleep better at night.
1. Establish a sleep routine
Try to go to bed and wake around the same time every day.
This can help to develop and support strong circadian rhythms; consistency tells the body when to stay awake and when to get low.
Try to get into a regular sleep/wake cycle — especially on the weekends. If possible, try to wake up naturally at a similar time every day. In the beginning, you can make use of an alarm to get into the habit.
2. Get completely tech-free
The bedroom should be completely something we associate with sleep. Try to remove distractions from your bedroom. Be cautious with all presence of gadgets and electronics, such as computers, phones, tablets, and TVs. The blue light emitted by these devices is especially disruptive.
You should stop using these devices two hours before you go to sleep to reduce their impact on your sleeping.
Natural sunlight or bright light during the day helps keep your circadian rhythm healthy. This improves daytime energy, as well as nighttime sleep quality and duration. Let as much natural light into your home or workspace as possible. Keep curtains and blinds open during the day, and try to move your desk closer to the window.
4. Exercise regularly throughout the day
People who exercise regularly sleep better at night and feel less sleepy during the day. Regular exercise also improves the symptoms of insomnia and sleep deprivation and increases the amount of time you spend in the deep, restorative stages of sleep.
5. Reduce the number of naps during the day
Short naps (20-30 min) are known to be beneficial for your body and health, however long naps during the day can negatively impact your sleep.
Sleeping in the daytime can confuse your internal clock, meaning that you may struggle to sleep at night.
If you feel tired during the day, get up and take a walk around, get some fresh air, or do something challenging for a short while, like cooking or netting.
6. Limit caffeine late in the day
Caffeine has its own benefits and is consumed by the majority of the UK adult population. Known to improve focus, energy, and performance. However, if consumed during the day. Caffeine stimulates your nervous system and may stop your body from naturally relaxing at night. Caffeine can stay elevated in your blood for 6–8 hours. Therefore it is recommended to avoid having a cup after 2-3 PM.
7. Avoid alcohol before bed
Having a couple of drinks a night can negatively impact your quality of sleep. Alcohol is known to cause sleep apnea and can reduce nighttime melatonin production which leads to disrupted sleep patterns. It also causes going to the toilet frequently or waking up dehydrated to drink water.
8. Adjust your sleep environment
The bedroom environment and the way is set up are key factors to good night sleep. This includes room temperature, noise level, lights, and comfy furniture.
Numerous studies suggest that external noise and lights, often from traffic can cause poor sleep and long-term health issues. For light and noise sources that you can’t control, eye masks or earplugs are wonderful investments.
Try to keep your room cool. Most people sleep best in a slightly cool room (18-20° C) with adequate ventilation. A bedroom that is too hot or too cold can interfere with the quality of sleep.
To get a great night's sleep, try to minimize external noise, light, and artificial lights from devices like alarm clocks. Make sure your bedroom is a quiet, clean, and cozy place to be.
9. Avoid big meals before bed
Try to make dinnertime earlier in the evening, and avoid heavy, rich foods within two hours of bed. Spicy or acidic foods can cause stomach trouble and heartburn, therefore, disrupt your sleeping patterns.
For some people, a light snack before bed can help promote sleep. You can try snacks like yogurt, banana, low-carb cereals.
10. Unwind and clear your mind
Relaxation techniques before bed have proven to improve sleep quality.
These methods include: reading a book, listening to relaxing music, taking a hot bath, meditating, deep breathing techniques.
A method that's been popular lately is mediation for sleep known to improve quality of sleep, how quickly you fall asleep, and how long you can stay awake during the day. Headspace Meditation app, a leader in this industry currently offers 2 weeks of free subscription.
It's best to try out to see which one works best for you to make you fall asleep.
Sleep plays a vital role in our life. It is as critical to our wellbeing as food, water, or shelter. Yet, as a society, we often try to ignore the importance of it.
Most studies link lack of sleep to poor performance and brain function, diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic illnesses.
That’s why using these suggested tips as a tool for better, deeper, longer sleep can be a game-changer, especially if you want to optimise your health and well being.