When life gets busy the first thing to go out the window is a good nights sleep! I can’t stress enough how bad this is for your health. Sleep patterns have been studied extensively and it is well known that good nights sleep is very important to regulate hormones, consolidate memory, repair muscles and much more. There is plenty of research about the effects of poor sleep on weight gain, elevated cholesterol, high blood pressure, pre-diabetes and heart disease. Do yourself a favour and plan your night so you get the health benefits of a full 8 hours of shut eye every night, including the weekends.
Sleep disorders, insomnia or poor sleep patterns are very common in the community. There are a lot of people in the community who are up all night and can not sleep, caused by various problems such as varying work shifts, excessive light, noise, children, medications or hormonal disorders . Having a night time routine is certainly not a cure, but it can help improve sleep patterns. How and when you wake up is just as important for getting a good nights sleep.
Here are seven easy to do tips to improve your sleep;
1. Use sunlight as your alarm
When light touches the skin it can cause the body to decrease the secretion of sleep-waking hormone, Melatonin. This makes you feel alert. Using electrical equipment like light boxes and lamps can also do this, so don’t have lights on when your trying to sleep.
2. Meal timing
Eating large meals at night can give you a carbohydrate overload making you feel sluggish just before you reside to bed and try to sleep. When you try to sleep, when your body is digesting sleep it can prolong the time it takes to get into deep sleep. Give yourself at least 1-2 hours food free zone before you try to sleep. In addition, this it makes you feel very full the next morning. People usually wake better in the morning if their hungry (when your supposed to be).
Alcohol can make you get to sleep better because it’s a relaxant, however it will effect your quality of sleep. Alcohol will limit yourself into deep sleep (REM – rapid eye movement sleep), at about 3-4am most people wake up. In addition, if you drink too much you may wake up dehydrated with a hangover and thats never fun.
4. Sleep routine
Stick to waking up and going to bed at night at the same time every day. It regulates the circadian rhythm. the circadian rhythm is how your body regulates your hormones and memory consolidation. Remember that sleep patterns should be maintained over the weekend. This is so you wake up feeling refreshed. If you miss out because of a night of partying a long morning sleep in just won’t cut it, typically we get into the deepest sleep in the early hours of the morning. If you miss out on the deep sleep, your body will try to catch up on deep sleep for days following that missed time.
5. Exercise and bed time
Try not to exercise to close to bed time. Exercise is great to stimulate the body and wake you up, this is not what you want at night. Try to finish with exercise at least 1-2 hours prior to sleep time so you can start to unwind, relax and slow down. If you are time poor and can’t exercise at any other time, try more relaxing forms of movement like pilates or yoga.
6. Screen time
Avoid playing computer games before bed. Computer games at night stimulates the brain because of the light emitted from the screen making it harder to fall asleep. A better option is reading or meditating.
Try not to rely on coffee, it’s a stimulant that will keep you awake for 6hours post consumption. It stimulates the nervous system leaving you alert and energetic. This is a great side effect during the day, but not at night when you are trying to sleep. Even if you don’t have trouble falling a sleep after drinking coffee, it will affect your quality of sleep. For a good nights sleep ditch the coffee and swap it for tea.
Do you have any tips for improving sleep?