Ahh good old sleep.. Some of us are very good at it, some have their moments, and some people really scrape the bottom of the barrell and run on minimal to get them through their daily lives. Yes lives are busy.. Theres kids, odd shift hours and not always enough hours in the day to jam everything in. What people don’t realise is the importance of sleep and good quality sleep at that.
Sleep plays a vital role in good health and well-being. Getting enough quality sleep at the right times can help protect your mental health, physical health, quality of life, and safety… During sleep, your body is working to support healthy brain function and maintain your physical health.
A lack of sleep can have a huge effect on your mood, make you irritable the next day. And over time, skimping on sleep can mess up more than just your morning mood. Studies show getting quality sleep on a regular basis can help improve all sorts of issues, from your blood sugar to your workouts.
Good quality sleep for those who struggle is not out of reach. Things are in your control more than you might think. You can help facilitate quality sleep by developing some good behaviours during the day, and especially in the hours leading up to bedtime.
Habit #1: Stay on Schedule
Going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day—even on weekends—is crucial for setting your body’s internal clock.
We understand this is not always possible, we all work and have social lives, but trying to stick to a common schedule and being consistent means that the quality of your sleep will be better.
Habit #2: Be Mindful of What you Eat and Drink—and When.
Nicotine and caffeine are stimulants that can take hours to wear off, so they’ll make it harder to fall—and stay—asleep. Avoid them all for four to six hours before bedtime.
Though alcohol can initially make you feel sleepy, it lowers the quality of your shut-eye, so try not to drink it in the evening. Also, pay attention to when you eat—going to bed starving can keep you up later. And go easy on any liquids before bed to prevent regular toilet trips overnight.
Habit #3: Create a Comfortable Bedroom
Make your room peaceful and conducive to sleeping by keeping it quiet, cool, and dark. Earplugs are helpful if you live in a noisy area. Outside light can keep you awake, so try block out curtains or room-darkening shades. Your mattress and pillow also make a big difference. It is said that mattresses should be replaced every five to seven years and pillows should be replaced annually. A mattress should feel comfortable, and if you sleep with a partner, make sure it’s big enough so you both have plenty of space.
Habit #4: Start an Evening Ritual.
Whether it’s curling up with a book, listening to calming music or taking a warm bath, doing the same, relaxing thing every night will signal to your body that it’s time to settle down. However, avoid watching TV or looking at any laptop, tablet or your phone screens before bed, since those activities can stimulate your brain before bed instead of winding it down.
Habit #5: Don’t Watch the Clock and Don’t get stressed!
Staring at the clock when you can’t sleep can stress you out and make it even harder to snooze. Keep your bedroom clock turned away from you so that you won’t be tempted to watch time tick by. This also means not giving into stress when you can’t fall asleep. Getting yourself worked up will do nothing for the situation.. If 20 minutes passes by and you still can’t fall asleep, get out of bed and do something peaceful and relaxing to help wind down until you feel drowsy.
Habit #6: Phones
Plug in your phone away from you or across the room, so you cannot reach it to text/mindlessly scroll through Instagram in bed. This also forces you to physically get up to turn off the alarm if you use it for that in the morning, so it’s a win-win!
Habit #7: Block out glasses.
Blue-light-blocking glasses may seem like a new fad. These glasses however are fantastic! They essentially block out blue-light waves. And some studies suggest that these lenses help improve sleep overall when worn hours before bedtime
Habit #8: Exercise times
Exercise can help you fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly—as long as it’s done at the right time. Exercise stimulates the body to secrete the stress hormone cortisol, which helps activate the alerting mechanism in the brain. This is fine, unless you’re trying to fall asleep. Try to finish exercising at least three hours before bed or work out earlier in the day.
Habit #9: Dedicate your bed to sleep and sex, and nothing else. It is important to subconsciously connect being in bed with sleeping. Don’t read in bed or talk on the phone. Remove clutter and items that remind you of work from your bedroom as well, such as your computer. Treat your bed as a safe haven for sleep.
Habit #10: Get some sunshine!
A daily dose of Vitamin D can actually facilitate good sleep. Our sleep-wake cycle is closely connected to our circadian rhythms. Your brain relies on sunshine during the day to recognise it’s time to be awake and alert. The more natural light you receive, the more your body stays in tune to the regular day-night rhythms, and your brain learns to associate the darkness is associated with evening time and falling asleep. This is another reason to limit your exposure to bright light late at night from blue screens and electronics.
Aim to get maximum sunshine in in the morning, even pairing it with your daily exercise. It will help wake you up, energising you for the day, and make you more tired by bedtime.