If you have ever struggled with getting enough sleep then this post is for you.
Sleep is an essential component of a happy, balanced and contented life. It provides us with the energy we need to live life at full pelt. Yet most of us are blissfully unaware of the mistakes we make when it comes to sleep.
Let’s take a look at some common sleep mistakes and what we can do to ensure we wake up refreshed and ready to take on the day!
Diet before bedtime
Are you aware that what you eat and drink before bedtime will directly affect the quality of your sleep? Stimulants such as caffeine affect your body for up to 12 hours after consumption, so it’s important to refrain from having any tea of coffee after lunchtime. Sugar is also a common culprit for interrupted sleep patters. If you eat sugar close to bedtime you’re likely to upset the chemicals in your body which could see you waking up during the night. And lastly, alcohol is a big no-no if you’re after a good nights sleep. Although it’s a sedative and initially induces sleep, alcohol drastically impairs sleep in later stages of the sleep cycle which can leave you fatigued (not to mention hungover!)
Have you considered the importance of your sleep environment? I’m not just talking about the quality of your mattress or the number of cushions you have, but also other distractions such as the amount of light in your room and technological interruptions.
Did you know that our bodies rely on ‘sleep signals’ to go to sleep and darkness is one of those signals. Even a thin stream of light coming in through your window can disrupt your pineal gland’s production of sleep hormones and therefore disturb your sleep rhythms, so make sure your blinds are closed!
It’s also a really bad idea to have a TV in your room as the mental stimulation from this can disrupt sleep patterns. If possible, it’s best to keep your bedroom as a place for sleeping and minimize mental distractions.
Do you have a regular sleep routine? It’s ideal to go to bed at roughly the same time each night and wake up at the same time each morning. If you’re disorganized with your sleep routine, this can interrupt your natural sleep rhythms, which can cause insomnia and fatigue. So try to set yourself a rough time to go to bed each night (one you can stick to) and a rough time to get up at each morning. Don’t worry if you have a blow out every now and then – it’s about consistency.
Long naps (and snoozes)
Long naps can disrupt your sleeping rhythms so if you’re desperate for a power nap then try to keep it under the 30 minute mark and before 4pm. Research has shown that short naps after lunch can help to restore energy levels – just make sure you don’t sleep in!
If possible I would also try to avoid using the snooze button on your alarm in the morning. The temptation may be to squeeze an extra 10 or 20 mins of sleep in, but the reality is that if you keep hitting the snooze button, all you’re doing is snatching short periods of sleep that are immediately interrupted – and this does more harm than good.
Stress before bedtime
When we’re stressed, it can be very difficult to drift off to sleep. This is because we stay up at night worrying about things that might happen in the future. Your brain won’t allow you to slip into a sleep cycle if you’re busy worrying, so it’s crucial you make a concerted effort to stop any worries before bedtime.
The best thing you can do is to think of a few things that you’re grateful for from the day and these positive thoughts will interrupt your negative thinking and allow you to drift off to sleep.
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Simple Life Strategy: 7 Ways to Get More Sleep
1. Limit sugar before bedtime. Put a stop to all late night sweet treats – if you’re hungry go for a protein-based snack instead.
2. No caffeine after mid-day. Curb any tea or coffee urges after lunch-time to avoid stop the caffeine from interrupting your sleep (remember caffeine stimulates the body for up to 12 hours).
3. Reduce alcohol before bedtime. Alcohol may get you off to sleep OK, it will however wake you up in later sleep stages. Avoid too much alcohol before bedtime if you’re keen for a decent nights sleep (plus a hangover free morning!).
4. Create a healthy sleeping environment. Make sure your room is as dark as possible before trying to get to sleep and ban the TV (and any other mental distractions)!
5. Get a solid sleep routine. Make an effort to go to bed at roughly the same time each night and wake up at roughly the same time each morning. This will help your body to form good sleeping habits.
6. Avoid naps. If you’re desperate for a nap, keep it under the 30 minute mark and before 4pm. Also refrain from hitting the snooze button as this does more harm than good.
7. Avoid stress at bedtime. Remind yourself to think of what you’re grateful for before you go to sleep. This will interrupt any negative thoughts that could stop you from drifting off to sleep.
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