Waking up on these dark mornings can be difficult, but maybe it would be easier if you were sleeping better. Knowing how much sleep you should be getting, and how to ensure you have the best quality of sleep, is so important for overall health.
Did you know that not getting enough sleep can lead to weight gain, a lower immune system, worse mental functioning, and lower moods – just to name a few? So, this month Active Nation have uncovered the best ways you can make sure you are getting the best night’s sleep.
Our number one top tip for getting a good night’s sleep is to be active throughout the day. During the morning and afternoon, doing rigorous exercise will give you a boost of energy that will keep you going throughout the day. In the evening, however, intense exercise can interfere with sleep, so doing relaxing exercise such as yoga is best later on in the day.
No bright lights
Your body detects a fall in light at the end of the day and makes a hormone called melatonin. This helps to ease the brain into a sleep state. Bright light stops its production, making it harder to fall asleep. The real culprit is blue/green wavelength light, so red/orange light is best at night. Make sure you switch off those bright lights before bed, and get a warm coloured lamp for your bedside table.
No screens before bed
So many of us will watch TV, stare at our laptops, or scroll through our phones before going to sleep. But the light emitted by screens can actually trick our brains into thinking it’s day time, therefore supressing the production of Melatonin. So, ditch the evening screen time during the 1-2 hours before bed and pick up a book instead.
As well as keeping low lighting in the bedroom to help ready your brain for slumber, the whole environment of your bedroom can make a difference to your sleep quality. Try to only use your bedroom as a relaxing, stress-free space – a good reason to not bring that work into bed!
Have you noticed how, if you wake up at the same time for work during the week, you find yourself waking up at a similar time on a Saturday? Or have you ever experienced jet-lag? This is because our brains have a natural sleep clock. Going to bed and waking up at regular times will make falling asleep easier, and your quality of sleep better.
Check out this chart from the National Sleep Foundation to make sure you are getting enough sleep. If you are not getting your recommended hours, try going to bed earlier during the week. You can’t just make up for sleep at the weekend!
Cut caffeine after 2pm
This is a big one, and many people don’t realise that caffeine can interfere with your sleep quality up to 10 hours after consumption! So, even if you find it easy to fall asleep with caffeine in your system, it might be affecting the quality of your sleep throughout the night.
Of course, a lot of us find that a cup of tea or coffee gives us that energy boost we need, but it’s best to try and keep caffeine consumption to the morning and early afternoon. A good rule of thumb is to switch to decaf drinks around 2pm.
Don’t eat loads just before sleep
Gut peristalsis slows when you are asleep so you are more likely to get indigestion, which can affect your sleep quality. Nicotine and alcohol can also affect quality of sleep, especially if consumed later in the day.
Wind down, relax, de-stress
Have you ever struggled to fall asleep because your mind is buzzing with worries from the day? You’re not alone! Reading a book, listening to calming music or podcasts, and taking a hot bath or shower to relax your muscles are all great tricks to preparing your mind and body for sleep.
So this January, make it your resolution to get up to scratch with how much sleep you should be getting, and find the best ways for you to get those hours of slumber!