Sleep is an essential part of life without which our body fails to function optimally. Sleep deprivation affects both our physical and mental capabilities and capacity, which can have serious side effects.
Life is about balance! Eating healthy, exercising, environment, our attitude, friends and family, having fun, recovery and sleep!
How can I improve my quality of sleep?
A good sleep doesn’t mean lots of sleep but the right kind of sleep. Getting a good quality sleep on a regular schedule may improve your mood and make you feel rested when you wake up.
Here are simple tips on how to sleep better at night:
1. Increase your exposure to light
We all have a natural time clock programmed into us called Circadian Rhythm. It tells us when it is day and night (time to sleep).
It is recommended to avoid dark spaces for long extended periods during the day. Should you work in a dark environment it is recommended to go for walks or sit in the sun during your lunch breaks or exercise outdoor early morning to help ensure you get long extended periods exposed to light.
2. Avoid napping during the day
Napping for long periods in the day can confuse our natural clock.
It is recommended to maintain a consistent bedtime and wake up times. Avoid sleeping in, in the weekend. Routine is key to help establish healthy sleep patterns.
3. Avoid Blue light exposure in the evening
Blue light is admitted by our computers, TV and our phones. Long extended periods of blue light exposure confuses our natural rhythm. Our brain thinks it is still day when in fact it might be night. As a result it may be difficult to fall asleep.
It is recommended to turn off all devices a few hours before bedtime to allow your body clock time to sync. If this is not possible invest in some glasses that block out the blue light or purchase an app for your computer and or phone to block blue light exposure.
4. Consider taking supplements
Lavender and Magnesium can be purchased in the form of a tablet and are both natural solutions that have been proven to calm and relax muscles and the nervous system.
Supplements such as these can help to enhance the quality of sleep.
5. Use essential oils
Burning an essential oil in the bedroom before or during sleep is a great way to admit a calming scent. Breathing in the scent will help to calm and relax your body.
Lavender is highly recommended.
Invest in an electric burner. Avoid candle lite burners especially if you intend to burn the oils while you sleep.
6. Drink herbal teas before bedtime
Herbal Teas that contain Chamomile, Valerian Root, and Lavender, Lemon Balm, Passionflower or Magnolia Bark can help to relieve symptoms of insomnia.
It is recommended to drink your tea a few hours before bedtime to eliminate avoid disruption while you sleep (needing to use the toilet).
7. Avoid caffeine
Caffeine is a stimulant and affects the nervous system. Drinking more than one cup a day can prevent the body’s ability to relax and fall asleep.
Caffeine should definitely be avoided immediately before bedtime.
8. Avoid alcohol
Alcohol can increase the likelihood of snoring and a restless sleep.
Should you have a history with insomnia, it is recommended to manage the number of drinks you consume.
9. Make your bedroom more sleep-friendly
The environment we sleep in can aid greatly in the quality of sleep we get.
Ensure the room temperature is not too hot or cold, and is well ventilated. Invest in a quality mattress that feels comfortable, a good supportive pillow that holds your neck in a supported position, block out curtains will help to create a dark environment, and avoid all electronics including phones and TV’s in your room.
Your bedtime is a place for rest and sleep. Avoid other unrelated activities that can confuse your brain.
10. Dress comfortably
Avoid restrictive and uncomfortable clothing when you sleep.
Fuller busted women should consider wearing a supportive seamless non-wired bra or tank to bed. It will help to keep your breasts in position making for a more comfortable sleep.
Choose PJ’s made from cotton or another natural fabric. Natural fabrics allow the skin to breath, helping to avoid overheating.
11. Avoid eating too late
Eat dinner earlier to help avoid going to bed on a full stomach.
White meats and vegetables are much easier to digest. Avoiding red meats and other heavy foods that require your body to work harder to digest will help to add in a rested body.
12. Avoid sugary treats before bed
Sugar boosts our energy levels temporarily. Your body and mind is likely to find it difficult to wind down and relax.
13. Meditate before bed
Yoga and other mediation practices teach us to breath and calm the body and mind.
Mediation is a great skill worth learning. Having the ability to shut down the mind allows us to free our heads of all the crazy thoughts, aiding in a good night sleep.
14. Write it down
Use a journal or note pad to write your thoughts down before bed. This helps to clear the mind and free it up for rest.
Keeping active during the day helps to tier the body physically. A tied body is more likely to be ready for sleep.
16. Take a warm shower
Bathing or showering before bed can help to calm the body. Getting out of a hot shower and moving into a cooler room will cause a slight drop in your body temperature. As a result you may feel drowsy, which slows down metabolic functions in your body.
17. Read a book
Some people find it useful to read before bed. Reading forces us to sit still and focus less on our thoughts. As a result our body begins to slow down, aiding to a calmer state.
The benefits of sleep
A good night’s sleep is vital to our health and well-being that’s why its benefits should never be underestimated. Here are reasons why a better sleep means a better you:
Aids in weight loss
An adult should have no less than 7-8 hours of sleep per night. It has been suggested that sleep deprivation increases your appetite. When we are tied hungry hormones are released into the stomach, which tell our brain that we are hungry.
The longer we stay up, the more likely we are to eat.
Improves our mood
A good nights sleep will leave you feeling recharged and rejuvenated.
You are more likely to get more done in your day. A good night sleep will give you more energy.
Promotes a healthier lifestyle
When you are feeling energized you are less likely to reach for sugary treats as a pick me up.
Energy to exercise
People who get good nights sleep are more likely to be physically active.
When we sleep our muscles relax and our brain resets, ready for a new day.
When we sleep our brain stores memories.
When we sleep our body repairs itself. More sleep means our bodies are less likely to get run down. A run down body is more prone to illness.
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