Sleep is one of the most important aspects of a healthy lifestyle, but 50% of people fail to get enough sleep and up to 75% of people report having trouble falling to sleep. Inadequate sleep can have a big impact on your weight, as well as how you function, feel and think.
Guidelines tell us we should be getting 7-9 hours of sleep per night, however this is not always practical in the modern-day time-poor environment and sleep quality can be just as important.
Here are 7 tips to improve your sleep:
1. No blue light after twilight
Each day our sleep-wake cycle is controlled by a series of complex biological functions, including the release of hormones, such as melatonin. The levels of this hormone, known as ‘the hormone of darkness’, increase at night and will reduce when in bright light. Technology and screens – computers, phones, tablet devices, mobiles – emit a blue light which will suppress melatonin secretion and prolong the time it takes to fall asleep. Use the evening time for a constructive activity that does involve screens.
2. Give your serotonin levels a boost
Serotonin is a chemical messenger that regulates mood, appetite and sleep, and is derived from the amino acid, tryptophan. Example of foods that are high in tryptophan include dairy foods, eggs, tofu, soy beans, salmon, lamb, chicken, turkey, cherries, kiwi fruit, nuts and seeds. Try including some with your evening meal but make sure to balance the meal with a serving of wholegrain carbohydrate such as brown rice, quinoa or barley.
3. Cut out caffeine after lunch
Caffeine is a stimulant and will have varying degrees of effect on different people. It’s found in both coffee and tea, including green tea. The best advice is to cut it after lunch and stick to herbal teas which are caffeine-free – for example, lemon and ginger, chamomile, rooibos. Reducing your fluid intake towards the end of the day will also reduce the likelihood of having to get up frequently during the night to urinate.
4. Buy a good bed
You spend approximately one-third of your day in bed. Next time you go and buy a commodity you likely don’t need, put the money aside to save for a new bed and pillow. Your sleep is one of the most important aspects of your health so don’t be scared to spend a few dollars on it.
5. Get everything out of the bedroom
Your bedroom should be a sleep sanctuary for just you and your partner. It’s not a place for the entire family or any sort of screen or technology. Turning on the screens before bed will inhibit the production of melatonin and allowing your kids or your pet to sleep in your bed is not a good idea.
6. Retrain your brain
Alcohol is just the quick fix of dealing with stress. Whilst you might get to sleep quicker from drinking, after it wears off, the later part of your sleep will be disturbed. Focus on using stress coping mechanisms outside the comfort of your kitchen or couch. This might mean picking up a new hobby or working around the house on those overdue tasks.
7. Get moving
Exercise is one of the best ways to improve sleep quality. You need to get in at least 30 minutes each day and it’s best to incorporate different types of exercise of varying intensities. This might just mean walking fast to each of your meetings – it all counts! Switching off before bed by going for a stroll or practicing meditation and relaxation techniques can also help the ‘busy mind’ from keeping you awake.