Sleep – The most underrated way to look and feel good

Top tips on getting the best night’s rest…

 

 

24 hours a day sounds like ample amount of time to fit in all our activities, tasks and passions but how much of this do we prioritise for ourselves to recharge? We live under the misconception that eight hours of sleep is sufficient for us to function, but the key actually lies in uninterrupted sleep, which reduces the risk of health issues such as heart problems and high blood pressure. We’ve compiled a guide with the best techniques to achieve a substantial and fulfilling night’s rest and prove that you don’t always lose if you snooze!   

Power Out

Our phones have become the first thing we wake up to and last thing we see before we doze off. Technology has taken over our lives and holds significant influence over the way we behave; whether it’s staying up to date with current affairs, keeping with touch with friends on social media or even as an alarm to wake us up. However, the phone’s blue light can contribute to high risks of insomnia by suppressing melatonin and stimulating the brain. Keep your phone and electronics away from you before you sleep to avoid the temptation of constantly checking the time and messages in the middle of the night.

Tip:Trust your alarm clock and get as much sleep as you can.

Get Moving!

We all know medicines aren’t the key to long-term solutions as they have adverse side effects and can cause more problems than they solve. Try natural lifestyle changes such as yoga, exercising and cardio to relax instead. Exercise, as little as 10 minutes a day, is enough to improve the quality of nighttime sleep dramatically. Any kind of activity, light or heavy can make a big difference in regulating your body and improving sleep, by boosting the immune function, supporting cardiac health and controlling stress and anxiety. Yoga is an excellent mind-body exercise that helps lower cortisol levels and reduces blood pressure. Morning jogs are a great way to boost deep sleep.

Tip: Timing is critical – make sure you don’t exercise right before bed. Exercise speeds up your metabolism, elevates body temperature and stimulates hormones

Keep your Caffeine under Control

Getting out of bed early in the morning is tough but knowing a fragrant cup of coffee is waiting is good enough to energize and fuel us for the day. Nevertheless, the caffeine in coffee contains stimulant effects which stay in your system for four to six hours and can be disruptive to a good night’s sleep.

Tip:

  • Say no to coffee after 5 pm; we all need our coffee to keep us going but try and limit it to earlier parts of the day.
  • Limit coffee to a maximum of four cups per day
  • Use a smaller mug
  • Try decaffeinated coffee

 

It is crucial to hydrate ourselves with eight to ten glasses of water throughout the day to improve our emotions, detox our digestive system, as well as boost our immune system. However, make sure to limit the amount of water you consume at least two hours before bed. Nighttime trips to the bathroom will break your sleep and negatively impact your heart health.

Switch off Lights

Exposing ourselves to any light at night can disturb our sleep by sending signals to the brain that we need to be awake. Melatonin is known as the darkness hormone and is released by the brain for a few hours before we go to bed; hence we are more efficient when the light is bright.

Tip:

  • Dim the lights around your room at least 2-3 hours before bedtime to incite the production of melatonin.
  • Invest in blackout curtains to eliminate any light from entering your room and causing disruption to your sleep.
  • Candles provide a calming touch to relieve stress and can help us drift off quickly; lavender is excellent to calm you down if you suffer from anxiety.

Alcohol Detox

Happy hour after work is all fun and games until the morning after. Despite being a depressant and aiding us to fall into a profound sleep, alcohol interrupts our circadian rhythm, which triggers sleepiness while not adequately rested, causing us to spend less time in deep sleep and more time in the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) stage of sleep. We are not saying to cut out alcohol completely; start by limiting consumption of alcohol to weekends to ensure undisturbed sleep during the working week. The last thing you want is to wake up in the morning feeling dehydrated and drained.

Tip: Give your liver a few weeks’ rest, and you’ll find yourself sleeping far more peacefully.

Choose the Right Foods

In a self-proclaimed foodie nation, we are always thinking about what to eat. Make this decision with the mindset of eating clean. Heavily processed foods with high sugar and high-carbohydrate content should be avoided at night as they interfere with the body’s wind-down process. On the other hand, calcium-rich foods are considered sleep-promoting, by encouraging strong wake cycles to regulate melatonin and to relax muscles.

Tip: Include high calcium dairy products as well as dark greens, nuts, fish, soy products, citrus fruits and cherries in your diet to regulate the sleep-wake cycle.

Peace of Mind

You have been working throughout the day, and it’s time to wind down at night by freeing your mind. Set aside your tasks and avoid any complicated or stressful discussions 2 to 3 hours before bedtime for peace of mind. Anxiety and stress can affect your sleep, so find ways to manage your issues with peaceful, positive solutions. Some activities you can practice before bed include tuning in to relaxing music or reading for half an hour.

Tip: Breathing exercises can be an excellent exercise to help with sleep; try mindfulness meditation as a natural and effective solution to calming yourself down.

While other factors play essential roles in our sleep pattern, we need to prioritise a balanced diet and healthy sleeping habits to ensure that we are giving our body the rest it needs. You don’t have to be a morning person to get a good night’s sleep, simply follow our tips to sleep well and feel energised throughout the day.

Sweet dreams!

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