How many hours of sleep did you get last night? And the night before?
If you answered less than 7 hours, then its time we had a little chat! Getting good quality shut-eye is one of the most important of The Four Pillars. We can’t live without it and we spend nearly a third of our entire lives sleeping - yet very few of us pay attention to the phenomenon of sleep.
Sleep is a vital component of a flourishing lifestyle. Sleep deprivation, like starvation, can have damaging consequences to our health and wellbeing. Learning to prioritize sleep in your life, creating healthy sleeping patterns, and effectively manage sleep-related disorders can have a powerful effect on your overall wellbeing as well as the environment within which you live and work.
Take a look at these 7 Tips and try to make a positive change in your sleep hygiene. You will truly reap the benefits.
1. Don’t eat or drink too late
Bedtime snacking can lead to disrupted sleep, so it’s best not to eat or drink too late. Avoid stimulants like caffeine and nicotine within 8 hours of bedtime, and be wary of too many nightcaps – alcohol suppresses deep sleep and reduces time spent in REM. Try to reduce your liquid intake about 2-3 hours before you hit the sheets - this will reduce the urge to be woken up to run to the bathroom.
2. Exercise for at least 30 mins a day
Regular exercise has positive impact on sleep. In fact, research shows that time spent exercising decreases sleep complaints and reported insomnia. By exercising more, you may increase the amount of time you spend in deep sleep. However, be careful of exercising too late at night; cardiovascular exercise can be too stimulating if you work out within 2 hours of bedtime, and it can cause more frequent arousals or sleep disruptions.
3. Stay consistent with your bedtime and wake time
Many of us tend to stay up later or sleep in more on the weekends, but this habit can actually be disruptive rather than restorative. Going to sleep and waking up around the same time each day helps you maintain your circadian rhythm. People who go to bed and wake up around the same time each day report less insomnia and less morning sleepiness.
4. Keep your bedroom/home at around 18 degrees
Sleeping in a room that’s too warm or too cold will disrupt your rest. Your core body temperature peaks during mid-afternoon and dips towards the end of the day, as your body prepares for sleep. The change in temperature kickstarts melatonin production, the hormone responsible for regulating your sleep. A small drop in room temperature reinforces this process by signalling to your body that it’s time for bed.
5. No screens 1 hour before bed
Blue light in particular (the kind of light given off by cell phones, TV, and tablets) downregulates the amount of melatonin produced by our bodies. Without this hormone telling us it’s time for sleep, our bodies stay awake and alert, making falling asleep really difficult. Instead of scrolling on your phone or watching television in bed, try reading or meditating.
6. Try a mind-dump
What is a mind dump? It’s a simple way to clear your mind and get everything out of your head, so that you can relax. If you find your mind starts racing with lists of to-dos while you’re laying in bed, you may find that taking pen to paper helps ease the stress on your mind.
7. Practice gratitude
A gratitude list is a wonderful, positive way to end the day. Instead of focusing on anything that went wrong, or something you’re worried about for tomorrow, focus your mind on the good things that happened. Write down a few things that you’re thankful for and fall asleep with a smile!