Sleep Tips that Actually Work
The majority of adults around the word say that they don’t sleep well. If you’re one of those, then this is for you!
Sleep is just as, (if not more) important as regular exercise and eating healthily to our overall health and ability to function day-to-day. Research shows that bad sleep can impact us both immediately, through regulation of hormones, brain function and physical performance, and also longer-term. Did you know that a lack of sleep can also lead to weight gain and increased risk of disease in both adults and children too? To find out more about the importance of sleep on our bodies and minds – check out our blog “Why Sleep is Important”.
By improving our sleep we can feel more refreshed, motivated and productive, we can exercise better, and become healthier overall. So, let’s see the top tips for getting that great night’s sleep, every night:
1. Exercise regularly
To get to sleep in the evening, it’s important that your body and mind are tired. Regular exercise int the day-time can help to tire our bodies out so that we’re ready for bed when the evening hits. Exercise also contributes to the healthy functioning of our bodies which also helps with sleep.
2. Reduce caffeine
Whilst bad sleep means we often have to rely on caffeine more during the day, this can end up having the unintended consequence of keeping us from sleep again the next night. So whilst this can be a hard cycle to break, try to cut down on the amount of caffeine you consume during the day. Or at least stop having any in the afternoons as caffeine stays in our system for a long time (the half-life of caffeine is 4-6 hours, which means that only half of the caffeine has been used up by this point and there’s still the remaining half in your system).
3. Bright light exposure during the day
A key driver of the body’s natural sleeping and waking cycles is known as the circadian rhythm, which are 24-hour cycles that act as our bodies internal clock. These are influenced by daylight and so ensuring plenty of exposure to bright light in the day will help to set these rhythms correctly.
4. Reduce tech use
Separate to the blue light impact, growing evidence shows that use of technologies just before bed stimulates our brains which can then make it tricky to fall asleep afterwards. To try to stop using any technology for an hour before you wish to go to sleep. Try reading a book, magazine or take up a manual hobby before you drift off to sleep instead.
5. Stop napping
Again, this can be difficult if we’re exhausted during the day due to interrupted sleep. However, you are likely making the situation worse because you’re interrupting your natural circadian rhythm which keeps us awake during the day and encourages sleep at night. Plus, it may mean that you are less tired when it comes to night-time and so your body is less inclined to go to sleep.
6. Reduce alcohol consumption
Even though it can feel like we sleep better after a few drinks, in fact regularly drinking alcohol can disrupt sleep. For example, a heavy drinking session of more than six units in an evening, can make us spend more time in deep sleep and less time than usual in the important Rapid Eye Movement (REM) stage of sleep, which is an important restorative stage of sleep our bodies need. So reduce the amount of alcohol you’re consuming both on one-off and on regular basis to see the benefits it’ll have on your sleep.
7. Focus on stress reduction
Stress in our professional and personal lives can have all sorts of negative impacts on our bodies (check out the blogs we’ve got on this topic). One of the most noticeable impacts of stress is often sleep disruption or an inability to get to sleep. So rather than adding this to your list of worries, learn how best to reduce your physical and mental reaction to stress and you’ll find the knock-on impact on your sleep is amazing. Check-out the tips and exercises we offer to reduce stress to get started on this journey.
8. Do eat certain foods
Did you know that certain foods have sleep promoting capabilities? So if you do need to eat in the evenings then try to incorporate these foods into your diet (read more in our blog on this topic): almonds, turkey, kiwi, fatty fish, chamomile tea, walnuts and passionflower tea.
Some people swear by taking melatonin supplements. Melatonin is a hormone made in the body. It regulates night and day cycles or sleep-wake cycles. Darkness triggers the body to make more melatonin, which signals the body to sleep. Light decreases melatonin production and signals the body to be awake. Some people who have trouble sleeping have low levels of melatonin. It's thought that adding melatonin from supplements might help them sleep.
10. Other sleep aid supplements
As well as melatonin, there are a number of other supplements that have been touted to aid in sleep. Some of these include:
Ginkgo biloba: A natural herb with many benefits, it may aid sleep, relaxation, and stress reduction, but the evidence is limited
Glycine: A few studies show that taking 3 grams of the amino acid glycine can improve sleep quality
Valerian root: Several studies suggest that valerian can help you fall asleep and improve sleep quality
Magnesium: Responsible for over 600 reactions within your body, magnesium can improve relaxation and enhance sleep quality
L-theanine: An amino acid, L-theanine can improve relaxation and sleep
Lavender: A powerful herb with many health benefits, lavender can induce a calming and sedentary effect to improve sleep
If you’re interested in learning more about sleep and how to create a great sleep routine, then checkout our blog on Sleep Hygiene.