Most people at some stage experience trouble sleeping – and all the symptoms that go with it like tiredness, feeling irritable, depressed, exhausted and unable to do the things you want to do.
As we all feel better after a good night’s sleep, establishing a pattern of sleeping well every night of the week is a goal worth working towards.
A recent study by Cambridge University and RAND Europe found that getting less than 7 hours of sleep can have a significant negative impact on productivity. Participants who slept for 6 hours or less were noticeably less productive during the daytime than those who slept at least 7 hours. That extra hour makes a massive difference!
In terms of your health, benefits of sleeping well include reduced stress levels, better mood, an improved immune system and lower risk of developing heart disease or type 2 diabetes.
Sleeping well is also important for losing weight. Lack of sleep can cause poor appetite regulation – meaning you are more likely to make bad food choices. Tiredness also negatively impacts on your motivation towards exercise.
All great reasons to make getting more sleep a priority!
If you are struggling with sleep, I can empathise as this is something I have worked for years to improve. The effort though is really worthwhile.
Sleeping Better: How to Do It
Consistency is key when it comes to improving your sleep quality. You need to examine your daily routine and tweak the things that negatively impact on your sleep
Here are my Super 7 tips for sleeping better – all based on research AND personal experience!
- Establish a regular bedtime – allowing enough time to unwind and fit in at least 7 hours sleep. Avoid sleeping in, so your time in bed is the same every day.
- Reduce your daily caffeine intake and cut it out completely in the evening. Drink water, herbal teas and other non-caffeinated fluids, but not too much to avoid having to get up in the night!
- Avoid heavy meals before bedtime: allow at least two hours for your food to settle after dinner.
- Reduce your exposure to light in the 1-2 hours before bedtime. Dim the lights, turn off computers and TVs and avoid back-lit devices: including tablets for reading. Home-automation devices can also enable you to control your home’s lighting system and create a sleep-friendly ambience. Known as Circadian Lighting, according to experts from Cold Air Central, it will help you regulate your brain’s perception of when it is the time to sleep, which is crucial for your melatonin production.
- Allow time to unwind before you go to sleep so your mind is relaxed. Try the following:
- Reading a book or magazine
- Meditation or breathing exercise
- Listening to relaxing music, and audiobook or podcast
- Take a warm bath or shower
- Prepare things for the following morning
- Write your thoughts in a journal
- Avoid all social media, answering emails and watching TV an hour before going to sleep: all these activities stimulate rather than relax your mind.
- Have a strategy for getting back to sleep if you wake up during the night, such as meditation or a breathing exercise. Reading a book can help too. Allow your focus to be on relaxation rather than fixating on trying to sleep: let this happen when your mind is ready.
Changing long standing sleep patterns can be a challenge, but one that’s worth taking on.
It’s a great long term investment in your health, happiness and productivity.
Another important part of your sleep strategy should be to include regular exercise, daily if possible. Choose whatever you enjoy and can do consistently. Any kind of exercise such as walking, yoga, or cycling, including through an e-bike kit, can help to improve your overall wellbeing and promote better sleep.
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