How your sleep habits could be impacting your wellbeing and 10 tips for what to do about it
What’s the one thing that often loses out when you’ve had a busy day – when you’ve been rushing around and you ‘deserve’ to just sit and watch some TV? Or maybe you’re watching your favourite box set and you want to watch just one more episode? Or you just can’t stop scrolling through Facebook?
That’s right, sleep. The poor relative of our daily schedule it is often treated as something that you know you need to get to eventually, but isn’t a priority.
But being tired and grumpy all day isn’t the only impact lack of sleep is having on your health and wellbeing. Sleep impacts on pretty much every bodily system and so the impacts of sleep deprivation are wide ranging.
Getting that all important decent night’s sleep each night can therefore:
- Reduce sleepiness and fatigue.
- Help to boost your immunity.
- Help you maintain a healthy weight.
- Boost your mental wellbeing (including positive impacts on stress control, emotion moderation, anxiety, and depression).
- Help prevent diabetes.
- Improve your cognitive function including concentration, motivation, and judgement.
- Ward off heart disease and lower your blood pressure.
- Increase your sex drive and your fertility.
- Reduce risk of accidents, particularly car crashes.
How to get a better night’s sleep
Although a number of those who struggle to sleep have sleep conditions, there are a significant number of us who just have bad sleeping habits, or changes to their lifestyle would boost their sleep quality (and often vice versa!). Here are some tips on how you can boost your sleep performance.
- Create a regular sleep pattern. Wherever possible try to go to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time to get your body into a regular rhythm. Avoid then moving away from this too much at weekends/days off.
- Wind down before bed. Take 20-30 mins to step away from devices, TV or working(!) and instead develop a bedtime routine. You could have a bath, read a book, listen to some soothing music, do some gentle yoga, listen to a podcast – whatever takes your fancy and helps to chill you out.
- Make a to do list before you go to bed. If your someone who’s mind won’t switch off about all the things you need to do the next day, write a to do list of everything or quick notes to yourself. While you are there – write 3 positive things about the day, however small.
- Leave devices downstairs or set them to sleep mode: Ideally don’t take your phone to bed at all, but if you use it as an alarm clock then make sure it is in sleep mode to stop you getting distracted by notifications. Or even better, buy a separate alarm clock… this stops you just picking up your phone as soon as you are struggling to get to sleep or to do that thing you remembered.
- Don’t drink anything caffeinated after 12pm. This includes decaffeinated if possible (which can contain 10-15% caffeine). Even if you are not struggling to get to sleep, caffeine could be subtly affecting your sleep patterns interrupting vital stages of sleep for part of the night until it is fully processed.
- Be active daily. Exercise has been shown to help improve sleep, particularly with those who suffer from more severe sleep disorders. Poor sleep can also hinder your ability and drive to exercise. Even if you feel tired, try and do a 10 minute walk and often you will feel better.
- Try practising yoga. Yoga’s benefits on the body physically and physiological as well as its impacts on the mind provide an all-round assistance to sleep. Preparing the body and also helping to control some of the flittering thoughts that can keep you awake at night.
- Check your diet. Some foods can for some people impact their sleep. Common culprits include garlic, chocolate and generally heavy meals too close to bed time.
- Lose weight. People who are overweight/obese are more likely to suffer from sleep obstructive apnoea. This disorder impacts your ability to get a good quality sleep, and you may not even be aware that you have it. Snoring can also in some cases cause some of the same impacts.
- Drink less alcohol. Alcohol impacts your ability to get enough REM sleep, disrupting your sleep cycle. Despite the fact it may help you to get to sleep, it will reduce your sleep quality. Drinking alcohol excessively can also increase the likelihood of sleep apnoea and snoring.
If you would like support on improving your sleep through your lifestyle, be it changes to your diet, exercise, trying to lose weight or just help making a new routine then please email me firstname.lastname@example.org or call/message 07876 754645.