Sleep is an essential part of our wellness. It impacts every aspect of our wellbeing from hormones, mood, resilience, brain function and more. However, despite increasing awareness of the importance of sleep, millions of people struggle with sleeplessness every night. This global rise in sleep related problems is impacting not only our wellness but our work performance, tolerance level and relationship with others.
Therefore, it is crucial to develop good sleep habits to ensure a restful sleep and good quality of life.
Tips for sleeping soundly
Rule out a sleep disorder
It is important to rule out the possibility of sleep disorders when dealing with sleep difficulties. By dismissing any underlying medical conditions, you will know where to focus your energy. Do you require professional help or simply to adjustments to your routine?
Stick to the same wake and sleep time every day.
Our bodies follow a circadian rhythm which governs our sleep-wake cycle. It is a 24-hour cycle aligned with the rise and fall of the sun. Try waking up naturally and going to bed when your feel sleepy to better determine your optimal sleep window. Then arrange your schedule to facilitate this pattern and stick to it each day.
Be mindful of light exposure
During your waking hours it is important to expose yourself to bright light or natural sunlight. This helps your brain know that it is time to be up and helps you stay awake. However at night, bright or blue light exposure should be decreased. Therefore, it is best to limit your device usage since they emit blue light. Aim for at least 1 hour before bed. Use an app like Flux to reduce blue light on your phone, turn off bright lights and wear blue light blocking glasses. Reduced light signals your brain that it is time to rest and prepare for sleep. Remember the body follows a circadian rhythm that aligns with the sun.
Optimise your bedroom for sleep
Your bedroom should be only used for sleeping, and sex. It should be a relaxing and cosy environment that signals your brain immediately that it is time for sleep. There should be no distracting sounds, harsh lights or devices to distract you from sleep. The temperature should be set to your optimal level. Your mattress and pillow should be comfortable and even the scents in your room should promote sleepiness. Try lavender for its calming effects.
Choose your evening meal and bedtime snack wisely
Everybody is different. Listen to your body, observe how it responses to your meals choices at night and how it affects your sleep quality. Consider the time gap between sleep and dinner, the type of meal you had and your ability to fall asleep easily without discomfort. Remember your body knows intuitively what it needs. We just have to pay attention.
Take a warm bath or shower
Studies indicate that taking a warm bath or shower about 90 minutes before bed can improve your sleep. The warm water changes your core temperature so that you go to bed with a lower temperature. This helps signal your brain that it’s sleep time.
Create a night time routine
Creating a system to help you prepare for bed is a great way to get sound sleep. A night time routine signals the brain that it is time to unwind for the evening and get ready for sleep. You can incorporate any number of relaxing activities such as taking a warm bath or shower, journalling, meditating, reading, colouring or stretching. However, only engage in activities that calms and soothes the mind and body.
Limit your caffeine consumption
Caffeine stimulates your nervous system and gives you a boost of energy.
“The level of caffeine in your blood peaks about one hour later and stays at this level for several hours for most people. Six hours after caffeine is consumed, half of it is still in your body. It can take up to 10 hours to completely clear caffeine from your bloodstream.”
Therefore you should stop consuming caffeinated drinks 10 hours before bed for best sleep quality.
Watch your alcohol intake
“Alcohol has sedative effects that can induce feelings of relaxation and sleepiness, but the consumption of alcohol – especially in excess – has been linked to poor sleep quality and duration. People with alcohol use disorders commonly experience insomnia symptoms.”
As such limiting your daily alcohol consumption can improve your sleep quality.
For best results implement the 10-3-2-1-0 formula below for better sleep tonight.
• 10 hours before bed - No more caffeine.
• 3 hours before bed - No more food or alcohol.
• 2 hours before bed - No more work.
• 1 hour before bed - No more screen time (turn off all phones, TVs and computers).
• 0 - The number of times you will hit the snooze button in the morning.
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Thank you for reading.