‘Having peace, happiness and healthiness is my definition of beauty and you can’t have any of that without sleep’ – Beyonce
Someone recently told me to ‘prioritise sleep’. That really hit home. I don’t prioritise sleep, in fact I deliberately delay going to bed quite often. I sabotage my own sleep. That must be the definition of stupidity! I know how important sleep is, I know I feel better if I’ve slept well and everything seems just that little bit easier. Sleeping well improves so many things, so what am I doing?!
What’s so great about getting more sleep?
A good night’s sleep allows our body and mind to recharge and is key to how we feel the following day. If we sleep well every night, there are all sorts of benefits:
Everything seems easier when we aren’t sleep deprived. Whether it’s dealing with a problem at work, coping with a difficult personal issue or feeling ready to take on anything, if you’ve had a good nights sleep you’ll face it with strength.
You look better – your eyes will be brighter, dark circles will fade, eye bags will disappear and your skin will be plump and healthy looking.
It helps you lose weight. Yes – really! People who sleep badly are proven to weigh significantly more than those who sleep well.
Your body will remain healthier and better able to fight off diseases such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease which are all linked to lack of sleep.
You’ll perform better in physical activities.
Your brain will function better, enabling you to concentrate and process memories.
Your mood is boosted enabling you to process emotions better.
You’re less likely to suffer from depression, anxiety and panic attacks.
How much sleep do I need?
Everyone is different but, as an average, most adults need between 7 and 9 hours. Generally the younger you are, the more sleep you need. But it isn’t an exact science. If you wake up every morning feeling like you need another hour in bed, then you need more sleep! Conversely if you jump out of bed ready to start the day, you’re probably getting the right amount!
It is actually possible to have too much sleep though which can contribute to some of the same things that not getting enough sleep also causes – Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and depression – so it’s really important you don’t regularly have more than 9 hours sleep.
What can I do to help me sleep better?
Establish a bedtime routine and stick to it. Try to go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning, even at weekends. Whilst having a Sunday morning lie-in might seem like a good idea, it really isn’t!
Make sure you go outside during the day so your body absorbs daylight. This helps your sleep/wake cycles.
Make sure your bedroom is dark, quiet and not too warm.
Avoid looking at screens for at least an hour before bed if you can but if you do need to, use blue light glasses or change the settings on your device to night time mode.
Try writing a list before you go to sleep of things you want to do tomorrow so you can forget about them until the morning.
Write in a gratitude journal before you go to bed (see my earlier post https://wordpress.com/post/happyhealthymeajourney.com/336 for more on this). Writing down the things you are grateful for can really help you go to bed in a calm state of mind, ready to switch off.
Try a positive affirmation – tell yourself before you go to bed ‘I sleep well every night’. It might sound a bit strange but a lovely friend who is a yoga teacher told me to do this.
Eat a healthy diet and avoid caffeine, alcohol and large meals during the evening. Some foods such as turkey, fatty fish such as salmon, almonds, walnuts, kiwis and bananas can also help you sleep better as can drinking warm milk, chamomile tea and tart cherry juice.
Exercise earlier in the day if you can, but if you do exercise in the evening, make sure you stop at least one hour before going to bed. This allows your core body temperature to cool down and the endorphins, released by physical exercise, a chance to settle.
If you share a bed with a snorer, try to solve the problem! They might need to see their doctor as it can be a sign of a health problem such as sleep apnea. If it’s an occasional nuisance, you could try ear plugs or there are specially designed pillows and nasal strips which can help.
For me getting to sleep in the first place is the problem. I have trouble switching off, relaxing my mind. Any worries or problems seem to magnify at night. I can’t sleep if I can hear any noise or see any light. I also find it hard to sleep in a strange bed so the first couple of days of a holiday aren’t at all relaxing for me! Once I do fall asleep though, I’m usually fine and stay asleep until my alarm goes off. A few years ago, I was badly sleep deprived and, although things are a lot better now, I still don’t sleep as well as I’d like to. I’ve got into bad habits. So I’m going to be trying all of the above but I’m really going to focus on setting, and sticking to, a sleep routine.
How well do you sleep? Is there anything you could do to help you get better quality sleep? What’s your tiny tweak going to be? I’d love to know so why not tell me in the comments?
Until next time xx
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