A good night’s sleep is incredibly important for your health. It is just as important as eating healthy and exercising. Unfortunately, our modern times are interfering with our natural sleep patterns. People are now sleeping less than they did in the past, and sleep quality has decreased as well.
Sleep hygiene means habits that help you to have a good night’s sleep. Common sleeping problems (such as insomnia) are often caused by bad habits reinforced over years or even decades. You can dramatically improve your sleep quality by making a few minor adjustments to lifestyle and attitude.
Why is Sleep so important anyway?
Poor sleep can make losing weight more difficult than it should be. Short sleep duration is associated with a drastically increased risk of weight gain and obesity, in both children and adults. In one extensive review study, children and adults with short sleep duration were 89% and 55% more likely to become obese, respectively.
Poor sleep affects hormones that regulate appetite. Those who get adequate sleep tend to eat fewer calories than those who don’t.
Good sleep can maximise problem-solving skills and enhance memory. Poor sleep has been shown to impair brain function.
Longer sleep has been shown to improve many aspects of athletic and physical performance.
Sleeping less than 7–8 hours per night is linked to an increased risk of heart disease and stroke.
Sleep deprivation can cause pre-diabetes in healthy adults in as little as six days. Many studies show a strong link between short sleep duration and type 2 diabetes.
Poor sleeping patterns are strongly linked to depression, particularly for those with a sleeping disorder.
Getting at least eight hours of sleep can improve your immune function and help fight the common cold.
Sleep affects your body’s inflammatory responses. Poor sleep is strongly linked to inflammatory bowel diseases and can increase your risk of disease recurrence.
Sleep deprivation may reduce your social skills and ability to recognize people’s emotional expressions.
When you are sleeping your body is rejuvenating, repairing and detoxing. Therefore prioritizing quality sleep is super important!!
Here are a few of my key tips for a good night’s sleep.
- Routine, getting into the habit and routine to switch off. Relax, quieten the mind and unwind. This should be done about 30-60 mins before bed time. Humans respond well to routine. Having a specific bed time helps our body clock and circadian rhythms.
- Minimise blue light exposure, this is a life changing tip. Blue light messes with our circadian rhythm by blocking melatonin production. Melatonin is responsible for regulating sleep cycles. Studies have shown that blue light emitted by screens (TV, computer, phone etc.) suppresses melatonin levels making it more difficult to fall asleep. I wear blue light blockers at least an hour before bed if I have late night work to do on the laptop or watching television.
- Journaling, if you can’t fall asleep due to a busy mind, try journaling your thoughts. Write gratitude lists or set your intentions for the next day.
- If I am going through a stressful patch and feel anxious I will take one or two herbal rescue tabs to calm the nerves, this helps to get into that relaxed space to be able to unwind.
- Epson salt baths, these are amazing at relaxing the muscles. Try adding 1 cup of Epson salts to your next bath!
- Music and listening to meditation music can be very calming and allows you to wind down for the night.
- Salt lamps generate negative ions. Spending time in nature, especially around water, is definitely the best way to get exposure to negative ions, but salt lamps also generate small amounts, especially when used consistently over time. My salt lamp just sets the tone for a cosy sleep cave feel.
- Ear plugs. Wax ear plugs are life changers if outside noises are disturbing your sleep!
Hope this inspires you to prioritize your sleeping routine and perhaps change a few things to get in some extra zzz’s.