Sleep Well for Better Health

Sleep Well for Better Health

A good nights sleep is a game changer for your health and your emotional wellbeing. I’m sure you would agree that everything looks better when you are well rested. Lack of sleep can affect us in different ways, from not feeling yourself, to weight gain, and lowered immunity. It can also affect our risk for metabolic conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease.

Why Do We Sleep?

As far as we can tell, the purpose of sleep is for the body and mind to rest and repair. In humans this takes between seven and nine hours. When you don’t get enough, there are usually consequences. Your mood, creativity and tolerance are lower than they would otherwise be. Your motivation to eat well usually goes out of the window as well.

Of course there will be periods of time when your sleep isn’t as great as it should be. But if you regularly get less than seven hours a night, I invite you to really look at the impact it might be having on your life.

Why Am I Not Sleeping?

There are many different reasons that clients come to me for not sleeping. Stress, blood sugar imbalances, perimenopause or menopause hormones or just bad habits are some of the reasons that your sleep might be affected. The great news is, there are lots of things that you can try to improve your sleep quality.

Try These Tips For a More Restful Night

Get plenty of natural light

Getting outdoors during the day – whatever the time of year – can help regulate the circadian rhythm. Spending time outside or near a window can help, as can using a light therapy box during the winter months. Getting out for a morning walk is a great way to start the day and wake your body up.

Exercise every day

Try to take some kind of exercise every day. There is evidence that regular exercise improves restful sleep. This includes stretching and aerobic exercise. A brisk walk ticks both boxes.

Watch your caffeine intake

Caffeine has a very long half-life, meaning it can take 6-8 hours for half the caffeine in your cuppa to leave your body. Consider that any caffeine after 2pm (if you go to bed at 10pm) will have a deleterious effect on the quality of your sleep – even if you cannot feel it. Similarly, a few alcoholic drinks and eating late at night can also make it harder to get a good quality sleep.

Dim lights in the evening

In the evening time, you want to encourage your body to make more of the night-time hormones, which means reducing the amount of bright light. If you have dimmer switches, use those. Or use side lights instead of the main overhead lights. These subtle lighting changes can make a difference.

Avoid screens before bed

Blue light from electronic devices can interfere with your circadian rhythm and make it harder to fall asleep. Is it possible to avoid using smartphones, tablets, and computers for at least an hour or so before bedtime? Consider real books or a Kindle (which has a different type of light to a tablet).

Take time to wind down

Establishing a relaxing bedtime routine can help signal to the body that it is time to sleep. This is what we do with babies, and there’s no reason why you cannot adopt some of this for yourself: warm bath, read a book, lights out. You might find it helpful to practise relaxation techniques like yoga or try some guided meditation. I listen to a sleep story on the Calm app and that helps me to fall asleep.

Don’t engage in stimulating activities

… like playing a competitive game, watching programmes on tv that have you on the edge of your seat, or having an important conversation with a loved one. Even watching the news can be triggering.

Keep you bedroom dark, quiet and cool

Creating a comfortable sleep environment helps promote better sleep. This includes keeping the bedroom dark, quiet, and cool, and using comfortable bedding and pillows. Use your bed only for sleep and sex. If your bedroom ins’t completely dark, you could try using a good quality eye mask, and ear plugs if it is noisy.

Ditch your smartphone alarm clock

Consider getting a traditional alarm clock so your smartphone can stay out of the bedroom. Better still, work out how much sleep you need by going to bed 15 minutes earlier until you find that you wake up naturally before your alarm. That’s your personal sleep requirement.

Stick to a consistent sleep schedule

Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day can help regulate the circadian rhythm. This means avoiding staying up late on weekends or sleeping in too much on days off.

What now?

If implementing all of the above seems daunting to you right now, don’t panic! I invite you to really prioritise your sleep and throw everything you have at getting more of it. Then step back and see how you feel. It will soon become second nature to you.

If you’d like to discuss how your sleep is affecting your health, why don’t you book in for a call here?

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