We all know that sleep is good for us, yet numbers show that two-thirds of us are sleep-deprived.
Sleep, an activity that should take up about a third of the day, restores the body and mind and is crucial for physical, mental and emotional health. Getting enough sleep allows us to perform optimally throughout the day increasing energy levels, enhancing brain function, boosting confidence and stabilising blood sugar levels.
Richard Wiseman, a professor in the UK, conducted a research showing that a lack of sleep isn’t just an inconvenience, making us foggy and caffeine-dependent. Lack of sleep brings with it a host of problems; an increased risk of heart disease, cancer, obesity and diabetes, to name a few.
One of the contributing factors to sleep deprivation mentioned in his research is the use of smart phones, computers and tablets before going to bed. All electronic gadgets, including TV, subject us to blue light which suppresses the production of melatonin, a sleep-inducing hormone.
Other than the use of electronic gadgets, getting enough sleep can be dependent on a variety of factors. Lifestyle choices and bedtime habits can have a big influence on the quality of our sleep.
Would you like to feel refreshed and ready for the day all day every day? Follow these easy tips!
CREATE FAVOURABLE SLEEPING CONDITIONS
The function of your bedroom is to sleep, make sure yours is a sleeping sanctuary. Silence, darkness, temperature and a high quality bed are important factors to consider. Temperatures between 15C and 20C are seen as optimal while temperatures below 12C and above 25C are disruptive. Cooler temperatures lead to deeper sleep.
AVOID STRESS PRIOR TO SLEEP
Your body needs to prepare to sleep. This preparation includes starting to relax at least one hour before going to sleep. Relaxing means avoiding exercise and stressful work. Relaxing activities such as reading a good book, playing an instrument, taking a hot bath or having sex will help.
REGULATE YOUR CIRCADIAN RHYTHM
Find your natural body clock. Setting a regular bedtime schedule helps to regulate your circadian rhythm helping you not only to fall asleep but also to wake up naturally, feeling refreshed.
AVOID CAFEINE AFTER LUNCH
Caffeine stimulates the nervous system which is not going to help you sleep. Everyone metabolises caffeine differently but we generally recommend avoiding caffeine after lunch.
Even though some will argue it helps them fall asleep, alcohol reduces sleep quality.
MANAGE YOUR EATING HABITS BEFORE BEDTIME
Avoid certain foods and include others. Eating foods high in sugar before bedtime is not a great idea as eating these could spike insulin, while eating a small amount of foods, 30-60 minutes prior to bedtime, high in good fats such as coconut oil will ensure food cravings won’t keep you awake.
AVOID ELECTRONIC GADGETS OR WEAR SPECIAL BLUE LIGHT GLASSES
You want your body to start producing melatonin, a sleep inducing hormone. Electronic gadgets and the blue light they subject us to more specifically, will impair melatonin production. If you do want to use your electronic gadgets before bedtime, wearing special blue light glasses will block out that light.
If you need a little extra help, try one of the following sleep aids:
- Lavender – a sachet under your pillow or spray some oil around the bedroom
- Chamomile – have some tea after dinner
- Epsom salts – dissolve 500g in a warm bath and soak in the bath for about 20 minutes right before going to bed
- Valerian – can be taken as a herbal tablet or tincture
- Passion flower – can be taken as a herbal tablet or tincture