The health benefits of a good night’s sleep have been well documented, yet most of us make do with a few snatched hours squeezed into our hectic lives.
We should be sleeping for at least six hours each night, yet according to a recent report by The Sleep Council, 33% of Britons are getting by on five or six hours sleep while 22% say they sleep poorly every night.
“Each night, when I go to sleep, I die. And the next morning, when I wake up, I am reborn” – Mahatma Gandhi
A good night’s sleep is essential to your general well-being and health. This is the time when our tissues repair themselves, our muscles rest and our brain processes the events of the day. It has even been said that a good night’s sleep can help you to lose weight, as your body has more time to digest food and drink, and you are less likely to binge on caffeine, carbohydrates, chocolate and alcohol if you are well rested.
Simple Steps to Getting a Good Night’s Sleep:
Try to go to sleep and get up at the same time every day: This helps set your body’s internal clock and optimize the quality of your sleep. Choose a bed time when you normally feel tired, so that you don’t toss and turn. If you’re getting enough sleep, you should wake up naturally without an alarm. If you need an alarm clock, you may need an earlier bedtime.
Don’t Consume Caffeine Late in the Day: Caffeine has numerous benefits and is consumed by 90% of the US population. A single dose of it can enhance focus, energy and sports performance. However, when consumed late in the day, the stimulation of your nervous system may stop your body from naturally relaxing at night. In one study, consuming caffeine up to six hours before bed significantly worsened sleep quality.
Invest in a great mattress: Your mattress is one of the most important purchases you will ever make. Take your time trying out mattresses of different sizes, firmness and materials.
Create an ‘electronic sundown’: Ban television, tablets, laptops and smartphones from the bedroom. Our brain gets confused by the blue light emitted from such devices late at night, keeping us awake and reducing the quality of our sleep.
Avoid sleeping in—even on weekends: The more your weekend/weekday sleep schedules differ, the worse the jetlag-like symptoms you’ll experience. If you need to make up for a late night, opt for a daytime nap rather than sleeping in. This allows you to pay off your sleep debt without disturbing your natural sleep-wake rhythm.
No snacking before bed: We’ve all heard that cheese gives you nightmares, but in fact eating anything with a high fat or calorie content late at night can stimulate the body’s nervous and digestive systems, resulting in bad dreams or a disruptive night. Choose a carb-heavy supper-time snack, such as a piece of toast, or avoid late night snacking altogether.
Be smart about napping: While napping is a good way to make up for lost sleep, if you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep at night, napping can make things worse. Limit naps to 15 to 20 minutes in the early afternoon.
Burn lavender oil: Lavender has been proven to help slow down the heart rate and blood pressure, putting your body in a more relaxed state. An hour before you go to bed, burn lavender oil or a lavender scented candle in your bedroom – just don’t forget to blow it out before you go to sleep!
Take more exercise: A healthy body means a healthy mind. Wear yourself out by taking at least 20 minutes of cardio exercise every day, ideally outdoors. Your body will be so exhausted it will be begging for sleep, and you will wake up the next day feeling like a new person!
Nighttime snacks help you sleep:
For some people, a light snack before bed can help promote sleep. For others, eating before bed can lead to indigestion and make sleeping more difficult. If you need a bedtime snack, try:
- Half a turkey sandwich
- A small bowl of whole-grain, low-sugar cereal
- Milk or yogurt
- A banana
You know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams. – Dr. Seuss
I love sleep. My life has the tendency to fall apart when I’m awake, you know? – Ernest Hemingway
Never go to bed mad. Stay up and fight. – Phyllis Diller
Sleep, those little slices of death — how I loathe them. – Edgar Allan Poe
Some people talk in their sleep. Lecturers talk while other people sleep. – Albert Camus
Sleep is God. Go worship. – Jim Butcher, Death Masks