Many people underestimate the importance of a good night’s sleep but it is essential for many things including healing and repairing your heart and blood vessels. Sleep helps to control your metabolism and weight, promotes stable moods and is critical for brain functioning. It also boosts your immune system/function and helps with short and long term memory. In addition, a good night’s sleep improves concentration, cognition, productivity and performance.
Most adults require around 8 hours of good quality sleep every night to function properly but some people need more while others can function on less. As a general guide, if you wake up feeling tired and unrefreshed and spend the day needing to take a nap, then it’s likely you are not getting a sufficient amount of sleep.
A variety of factors can cause poor sleep such as anxiety, depression, stress, bodily pain, drug and alcohol misuse, high levels of caffeine, shift work, eating a large meal before bedtime and a noisy bedtime environment.
Here are some tips to promote good sleep hygiene;
* Avoid caffeine after 3pm as it can stay in your system for up to 12 hours and impact on the quality of your sleep
* Get into a good routine. Get up at the same time each day and go to bed at the same time every night.
* Steer clear of food that can disrupt your sleep. Heavy or rich foods and spicy dishes should be avoided before bed time and avoid eating a heavy meal before hitting the pillow.
* Develop a relaxing routine before bed. Reading a book, listening to relaxing music or having a warm bath/shower can help you unwind. Avoid anything too stimulating such as computer games or physical exercise.
* Limit daytime naps to a maximum of 30 minutes.
* Physical exercise can help you get a better nights sleep. Exercise produces natural endorphins which helps to relax the body.
* If you wake during the night for the toilet, make sure you have your last drink about 90 minutes before bed time.
* Ensure your sleeping environment is cool, dark and comfortable. Avoid using electronic equipment such as phones while in bed as they tend to transmit light which can keep you awake.