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Sleep is essential for our mental and physical health. Ongoing sleeplessness can lead to a number of health risks, such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, depression and obesity. Regularly not getting enough sleep can lead to continual feelings of daytime sleepiness, difficulty performing daily tasks and a reduction in the ability to concentrate.
Quick tips to sleeping better:
1. Eat well
· Focus on eating well during breakfast, lunch and dinner.
· Pre-bed snacking or large meals close to bedtime can disrupt your digestion and alertness levels which can have a negative impact on your sleep.
· Going to bed hungry can lead to restlessness and early waking
Download Hutton Health's FREE Meal Planner
· Create a bedtime routine in the same way we do for a child. This can help your body and mind prepare and transition while you unwind for a good night’s sleep
· Go to bed at the same time each night and wake up at the same time each day, including on the weekend
3. Positive environment
· Create a calm and soothing environment that encourages quality sleep. Ease into your bedtime routine by dimming the lights and slowing down your mind and body gradually.
4. Control your Caffeine
· Caffeine can affect each of us differently. Be aware of your ‘cut off’ time where consuming caffeinated beverages impacts your ability to fall asleep
5. Limit fluids before bed
· Consuming fluids too close to bedtime can mean that your sleep is disrupted by the need to use the toilet in the night!
· Drinking water can take 2 hours to pass through the body’s systems
· Experts suggest you should ideally stop drinking alcohol 4 hours before going to sleep
6. Limit evening screen time
Screens can affect your sleep in a number of ways:
· Affects Circadian Rhythm – The biological clock in healthy adults follows a 24 hour cycle
of sleeping and awake periods. In the morning, when the sun rises, your body releases cortisol,
which is a hormone that makes you feel awake and alert. As the day finishes and evening
approaches, the body releases melatonin, which produces feelings of tiredness.
Electronic devices which area back-lit (cell phones, tables, readers, laptops, etc) emit blue light.
The blue light from your phone is an artificial colour that mimics daylight, therefore making you
feel more alert. Exposure to blue light suppresses the hormone melatonin which induces
feelings of sleepiness. In the evening, the release of melatonin helps you to relax and prepare
to sleep. Changes in the secretion of melatonin can result in staying up later and sleeping less
than you naturally would. Exposure to blue light throws off our internal body clock.
· Blue lights from LED - Blue light is also emitted from household LED lights which can result in increased brightness. When these lights are in sleeping areas, the excessive brightness can affect our ability to sleep. Researchers have determined that the blue light emitted from your smartphone affects both your vision as well as your brain health.
· Stimulating Content - Overly stimulating content can increase our heart rate and make it more difficult to fall asleep. The responses that are triggered by content viewed on screens can lead to laying awake for a prolonged period of time which delays essential REM sleep. Your mind stays active and engaged long after you stop checking emails or scrolling through social media feeds.
· Scrolling through social media can result in FOMO (fear of missing out), heighten social anxieties and negatively affect your confidence. These emotions can lead to negative thoughts, emotions and anxiety which affect your ability to relax and unwind for a quality night’s sleep.
Struggling to limit screen time before bed? Consider leaving your phone in a different room and switching to a traditional alarm clock in your bedroom.
Read Hutton Health's tips for reducing screen time
7. Exercise Regularly
· Aim for 20-30 minutes of exercise daily. Regular exercise has a number of benefits for the mind and body.
· Avoid exercising within 3-4 hours of bedtime to ensure your body has a chance to relax and unwind before bedtime.
· If possible, exercise in the morning and outside whenever possible. This will help set your internal clock and the early exercise helps increase your energy for the day.
Sleep is integral to achieving optimal health and feeling strong in both our mind and our body.
”Sleep is an investment in the energy you need to be effective tomorrow.” – Tom Roth