Fact: the benefits of a good night’s sleep are abundant, and we’re here to help you get them.
Sleep can sometimes take a back seat when it comes to priorities; there are things to do, shows to watch, people to see, places to be. For others, sleep is something that is hard to come by naturally. However, there are many studies that show there are proven methods in place that can put you in the right headspace to fall asleep and can increase your amount and quality of sleep.
As part of Women’s Health Week, we thought it would be perfect to discuss tips and methods that are useful for improving your sleep, as it something that is super important for women’s – and men’s – health. Improved sleep can decrease risks of disease and type 2 diabetes, can help you eat less, exercise better and be healthier.
1. Regular exercise
Exercise during the day is recommended as it can enhance all aspects of sleep. The key is not to perform too late in the day, as this can hinder sleep due to the stimulatory effect of exercise which increases alertness and hormones.
2. Daytime light exposure
This one is a little more obscure, but your light exposure can be key in directing your body more naturally when it is time to be awake, and subsequently to go to sleep. Your body has a natural time-keeping clock known as your circadian rhythm, which affects your body by telling it when to be asleep. Daytime bright light can be very helpful for your circadian rhythm to stay healthy, which can improve sleep quality and duration.
3. Phone and computer use
Before bed it is best not to be on your phone or your computer as it is a stimulant and keeps your brain active and alert, and because of the blue light it emits. Blue light can trick your brain into thinking it is still daytime. There are apps that can be downloaded to limit blue light, but another option is to turn off devices and TV 2 hours before bed.
4. Food and drink
There a few pointers to consider when it comes to diet and its relation to sleeping:
- Caffeine, when consumed late in the day, can stop your body from relaxing naturally, as it can stay elevated in the blood for 6-8 hours.
- Alcohol can negatively affect your sleep and your hormones, which play a role in your body’s circadian rhythm and can also alter night-time melatonin production.
- Late night eating can impact sleep quality and release of growth hormones and melatonin, and likewise a large amount of drinking right before bed can cause the need to go to the bathroom and interrupt your sleep.
5. Long daytime naps
While it has been proven that power naps are beneficial, long naps can take away from your sleep as it confuses your body clock. It can also cause more sleepiness during the day.
6. Regular sleeping schedule
Going to bed and waking up at consistent times can be very beneficial in your sleep quality for the long term. Your body’s circadian rhythm functions on a set loop, aligning itself with sunrise and sunset. Try to get into a habit of going to bed and waking up at similar times each day and night.
7. Relaxation before bed
A relaxation routine or techniques that help you signal to your body you are ready to rest can be very advantageous in sleeping well. These include
- Meditation can help to create inner conditions for a truly restful night.
- Hot bath or shower can help you get to sleep faster, as it adjusts your body temperature so that you’re ready to relax.
- Acupressure mats, such as Shakti are highly beneficial for a number of reasons, as just 20 minutes a day can support deep, restful sleep, relaxation of tense muscles, recovery from headaches or muscular injury, circulation as well as overall well-being.
- Reading a book is a good way to relax and distances you from the blue light and stimulation of your phone.
8. Melatonin supplement
Melatonin is a sleep hormone that signals to your brain when it is time to relax and go to sleep. In some studies, 2mg of melatonin before bed improved sleep quality and energy the next day.
Valuing sleep will benefit you in the long run, and hopefully these pointers will help you get the best rest you can. Soon you’ll be as excited about sleep as Pooh.