When your days are very hectic, going to bed may be the most exciting part of your day. Adequate sleep is a key part of a healthy lifestyle. After a good night’s sleep you wake up feeling better, refreshed and ready to face another day. Sleeping affects growth and stress hormones, the immune system, appetite, breathing, blood pressure and cardiovascular health. When you are feeling tired due to lack of sleep, you cannot function well and your body will suffer. Your reasoning can become impaired, you are less able to problem-solve and to pay attention to detail. Lack of sleep can also influence your mood where you might be more irritable. Over time, sleep deficit can also put you at greater risk of becoming depressed. Thus, the benefits of sleeping are not to be under-rated. The following are a few tips which can help you to sleep better.
- Stick to a sleep schedule – Go to sleep and wake up at roughly the same time every day. Try to maintain the same schedule during the weekends too. This routine will get your brain and body used to being on a healthy sleep-wake cycle. As an adult, try to sleep between seven to eight hours every night.
- Physical activity – Regular physical activity can promote better sleep. However, do not exercise vigorously too close to bedtime since after a workout you can experience a burst of energy which will prevent you from falling asleep easily. On the other hand, mindfulness and yoga exercises are great to complete before bedtime as they will help you to feel calm and relaxed.
- Pay attention to what you eat and drink – Avoid going to bed either feeling hungry or too stuffed. Big meals overload your digestive system which affect how well you sleep. Try to have a light snack instead at least an hour before heading to bed. Avoid having caffeine before going to bed as it is likely to also keep you awake for longer.
- Avoid using gadgets before going to sleep – The soft blue light emitted from electronic devices such us a cell phone, tablet, or laptop may disrupt your sleep. It affects the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin where changes in sleep patterns can occur. This may therefore affect the body’s natural clock, the circadian rhythm.
- Taking naps – If you like to take naps in the afternoon keep them short, twenty minutes are enough. Also, try to nap before 5pm as late day naps decrease sleep drive.
Sleeping is an important part of our daily routine. Thus, do not take the benefits of sleeping for granted. Although you may be tempted to cut on the hours when you are very busy remember that by doing so you may be creating a health hazard for yourself. A good sleep will make you feel more energised the following morning and therefore making you more productive.
Dr Marilyn Muscat is registered as an Educational Psychologist with the Health and Care Professions Council in the United Kingdom where she trained. She works with children, adolescents and their families to understand more about educational, social and emotional well-being concerns that they have and to help them improve upon their difficulties.