Poor sleep can impact our hormones, brain function, weight and risk of diseases. In contrast, sleeping well can help us eat less, exercise better and be healthier. But how can we ensure a sleep-filled night? Read on for ten tips to improve our sleep
1. Don’t nap
Despite some studies suggesting short naps can enhance daytime brain function, sleeping in the day can confuse your internal clock, meaning you may struggle to sleep at night. Serial nappers may even feel sleepier in the day.
2. Reduce your alcohol intake
Alcohol can cause or increase the symptoms of sleep apnoea (when breathing repeatedly stops and starts in your sleep), snoring and disrupted sleep. It can also alter evening melatonin production, a hormone which plays a key role in the body’s sleep/wake cycle.
3. Check your temperature
We all know sleeping in a heatwave can be challenging, but experts think any temperature above 20°C could impact our zzz’s. One study even suggested temperature affected sleep quality more than external noise. Investing in two duvets suitable for summer and winter can help with changing temperatures outside.
4. Ditch late night snacks
Eating late at night can affect how you sleep, as well as impacting the natural release of growth hormone HGH, which stimulates cell reproduction, and cell regeneration, and melatonin.
5. Dip into a bath
A relaxing bath or shower can help us sleep better, and faster. One study found taking a hot bath 90 minutes before bed improved sleep quality and helped people get more deep sleep. Some experts even think dipping your feet in hot water can help improve your sleep.
6. Get moving
Exercise is a great way to improve your kip – but make sure you time it carefully. Exercise has been found to enhance all aspects of sleep – from the amount of time it takes to fall asleep, to how long you sleep for. For people with insomnia, exercise has been found to reduce the time it takes to fall asleep by 55 percent – and increasing total sleep time by 18 percent.
However, experts think exercising too late in the day can actually cause sleep problems, as it can increase alertness and hormones like adrenaline.
7. Stop smoking
We all know smoking isn’t good for our health, but did you know it can impact your sleep? Exposure to smoke, including second hand smoke, is associated with difficulties in falling asleep, as well as a fragmented sleep.
8. Don’t stew in bed
If you’ve spent 20 minutes in bed without being able to fall asleep, experts suggest getting out of bed and doing something relaxing in low light. This will help avoid a connection in your head between your bed and feeling frustrated or anxious about sleep. Try to take your mind off sleep for a few minutes before returning to bed.
9. Lower the lights
Switch off your devices, and lower your overhead lights. Dim light can help you transition to bedtime and boost the production of melatonin.
10. Opt for rice and oats
Eating rice, oats and dairy products can produce chemicals that increase our desire to sleep. Ditch caffeine and sugar later in the day, as they can keep you awake.