It is during sleep that your body’s internal environment continues to work and during this time that many important functions come into play. Lack of sleep could be affecting your metabolism, muscle growth and nerve repair, in addition to that sluggish feeling the next day.
– Calcium uptake
– Nerve and neuron repair
– Appetite regulation (there is a link between obesity and lack of sleep)
– Mood enhancement
For some people getting a good night’s sleep comes naturally, for others it may be a difficult situation. To improve the quality of your sleep, you need to look at your day-time habits, as well as, your sleeping habits. By developing a good bedtime routine, your body will, with time, adjust accordingly.
Improving Day-time Habits:
– Establish regular sleeping and waking times and do not deviate more than 1 hour either side of these timings – try to establish your weekend into this routine also.
– Exercise – 30mins of exercise either in one block or spread throughout the day will improve sleep. Avoid heavy exercise in the 2 hours prior to going to bed as this can stimulate the body, making it more difficult to fall asleep. During this period, gentle exercises of yoga, stretches and walking are good types of exercise to do.
– Alcohol – avoid alcohol in the 3 hours before bed as it may assist you in falling asleep, but will decrease your sleep quality and you are more likely to wake during the night.
– Caffeine – coffee, tea, cola, energy drinks and chocolate may affect your sleep up to 10 hours after consumption. If you have difficulties falling asleep, avoid all caffeinated products after lunch-time.
– Smoking – Nicotine is a stimulant and can be very disruptive to sleep.
– Avoid eating a heavy meal 3 hours prior to sleep.
Your sleeping environment
Ensure that your sleeping environment is comfortable, without noise or light and having good air ventilation. Consult a bedding specialist to determine the correct mattress and pillow for you. Your bedding should be comfortable and not overheating.
Top tip: Cotton sheets are great because they are soft and breathable. Avoid working in or on your bed, so that you establish an association of relaxation with the bed and bedroom.
Establish a relaxing bedtime routine and start this an hour before going to bed. Think about what relaxes you – a warm bath, soft music, reading a book, gentle stretches.
Avoid bright lights, stimulating activities and electrical equipment including laptops, television and talking on the mobile phone.
Ideas to help prepare for sleep
– Read a book or magazine
– Visualisation/meditation/gentle stretches
– Listening to soft music or a book on tape
– Hobbies, such as knitting or jigsaw puzzles
– A warm (not hot) Epsom salt bath. The magnesium sulphate will relax your mind and muscles
– A cup of Chamomile or lemon balm herbal tea (a quality brand as normally found from a health-food store)
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