We all know we should get a good night’s sleep but all so often the fast-paced nature of today’s ‘normal’ takes over. As a result, our quality of sleep suffers which can lead to long term mental and physical effects. 1 in 3 people suffer from poor sleep and most of us have forgotten what truly rested feels like.
Some of you may be asking well why is sleep so important?
Sleep is so often overlooked and neglected- however without it we simply would not survive. Sleep helps the body recover from the day’s activities, recharge and get ready for the day ahead. To help you understand, imagine your sleep as a factory of workers, in this factory these workers are working hard through the night to help repair the body, recharge the heart, boost the immune system, and heal damaged cells. When we don’t sleep enough or our quality of sleep is interrupted, these workers cannot do their job properly and in turn our mental and physical health is affected.
A couple of nights’ bad sleep won’t do you a lot of harm but when sleep remains poor over a period, lack of sleep or poor sleep can increase the risk of developing high blood pressure, heart disease and obesity. In addition to affecting our physical health, it can also lead to psychological effects and may cause low mood, anxiety, and depression.
So, are you really getting enough sleep?
The diagram below outlines how much sleep you should be getting based on your age.
To develop a better quality of sleep you first need to know what your sleep habits are and where your possibly going wrong. Click here to access this handy sleep diary that will help you get a better idea.Studies have shown that regular massage can help improve sleep quality
- Acupuncture helps relax the body and can help aid sleep
- Stick to a regular sleep schedule
- Avoid taking naps in the day
- Limit caffeine intake to earlier in the day, remember chocolate and tea also contain caffeine.
- Cut out alcohol
- Don’t exercise too late in the evening, exercise aids sleep when carried out in the morning
- Have a warm bath
- Practice a relaxing bedtime ritual- wind down one hour before bed, take a warm bath, read a book, practice yoga or meditation
- No technology one hour before bed
- Use lavender to scent your bedroom to help aid sleep
- Evaluate your bedroom- ensure room is tidy, there are no devices plugged in, ensure environment not too hot or cold, , ensure room is dark with no noise and there is a comfortable mattress and pillow
- Ensure environment has relaxing colours, no red or orange as these are stimulating colours.
- Limit bedroom to sleep and sex, evolution had made it so sex makes us feel sleepy
- If your mind is busy, keep a diary by the bed, write down any worries or concerns
- If after 20 minutes of trying to sleep without success, get up and do something relaxing such as meditation, reading or yoga, after a short while try and get in bed again
- Click here to access these useful Nodcasts to help you relax
When you go a long period with little or poor quality sleep you have what we like to call sleep debt. Remember you won’t clear this debt overnight and it is likely to take a few weeks before you feel the benefits.
Try starting your healthy sleep routine at a weekend, add in an extra hour or two of sleep in a night and try to aim for ten hours of sleep, don’t use an alarm clock to wake you, allow your body to wake you up on its own.
Eventually your body will adjust on its own to what and how much it needs.
Also, don’t use energy drinks as a pick me up when you feel tired.
Still not sleeping?
Although often our sleep quality can be improved with a few simple changes, there are some instances when these changes are not enough. If you’re still struggling to sleep or have difficulty with your quality of sleep then speak to your GP, there may be another underlying cause that needs to be addressed.
Click here for more information on sleep.