Over recent years there have been many studies conducted on the benefits of a good night’s sleep. Good sleep patterns and well-being go hand-in- hand, it is just as important to your overall health as eating well and regular exercise.
Your body is like a factory - while asleep your body goes to work to:
- heal damaged cells
- boost your immune system
- recover from that day’s activities
- recharge your heart and cardiovascular system ready for the next day
While most of us know the importance of sleep, many of us do not get enough of it. Here are some of reasons why a good night sleep is important for your health:
- Sleep helps improve memory
- Good sleep can improve productivity and concentration
- Sleep improves immune system function
- Good sleep can bolster athletic performance
- Sleep impacts your mental wellbeing
- Lack of sleep is closely linked to weight gain
- Sleep deprivation is a risk factor in many chronic diseases
Achieving a good night’s sleep is a problem for many people. According to the UK Sleep Council, here are some lifestyle changes that may help you drift off to sleep:
1. Invest in your sleep with a comfortable, supportive bed. What you sleep on plays a huge part in how well you sleep. A bed with the correct support, comfort and space will ensure you wake less, move about less, aren’t disturbed by your partner as much, and are less likely to wake up feeling tired or aching. Remember, if you’re not comfortable in bed your sleep won’t be as deep.
2. Avoid clock watching. Instead of staring at the clock and stressing over how many lost hours of sleep you’ve had, hide the bedside clock or cover it with something. Checking the time only increases stress.
3. Don’t focus on how much sleep you’re getting. There’s no ideal quota and one size doesn’t fit all! Instead look at how you feel the next day. Too many people focus on sleep quantity but what’s important is that the sleep you do get is of good quality so make sure you regularly assess that and your comfort levels.
4. Write a to-do list before bed. Worry and anxiety are a key player in what keeps us awake at night. Often, we get into bed with our mind racing or buzzing with the things that are troubling us or what we need to get done. Keep a notepad and pen by your bed and write down worries or jobs that need to be tackled. It really does help to clear the mind for sleep.
5. Watch your diet. Avoid over-eating before bedtime and choose foods with sleep-promoting chemicals such as chicken and turkey, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, peanuts, beans and milk. Equally, limit stimulants such as alcohol and caffeine which reduce sleep quality and prevent you feeling rested.
6. Establish a bedtime routine. Our bodies thrive on routine so establish and prioritise a bedtime routine and, where possible, stick to it. This could be something as simple as putting PJs on, washing your face and brushing your teeth. A bed time routine signals the brain that it’s time for sleep.