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Its a reasonably well documented fact that, as a society, we value sleep less highly now than at any time previously. Connected as we are to work, friends and entertainment 24/7 through phones, laptops and TVs means that sleep can easily fall by the wayside.
We've posted before about the benefits of sleep, and how to ensure you get enough. Here’s a collection of 7 top tips which are known to help.
Go to bed at the same time every night
Human beings are creatures of habit, and that applies to sleep as well. If possible, maintaining a fixed bedtime (including over weekends), will help you fall asleep faster. Most of this benefit is lost if you disrupt that schedule over the weekend, though of course sometimes it can’t be helped!
In addition to major health benefits of frequent exercise, it will also help you sleep better. Countless studies have shown that sedentary people who begin exercising fall asleep faster and have fewer disturbances during the night. However it is advisable to exercise several hours before bed, so your body can return to a fully rested state.
Avoid Caffeine and Alcohol
Caffeine is a stimulant which will keep your brain active and prevent rest. It also stays in your body for a surprisingly long time. Alcohol, on the other hand, is a biphasic drug; after drinking a few glasses of wine you might feel sleepy, but as the alcohol metabolises you can often experience disturbed sleep.
There is longstanding medical advice that we should drink between 1.6 and 2 litres of fluid each day. Being dehydrated puts your body in “stress mode” - a natural response to a lack of crucial sustenance which will make it harder to sleep.
Ditch the screens
TV and mobile screens in your bedroom provide constant distraction. Responding to messages and alerts as you lie in bed will make it far harder for your brain to rest. Screens also emit blue light, which acts as a signal to your brain that it’s morning time. Levels of melatonin, a sleep inducing hormone, fall dramatically in response to blue light.
Our bodies are accustomed to sleep at a lower ambient temperature than during waking hours. Although it may feel cosy and warm to keep the heating on in your room, it may counter intuitively act to reduce the quality of your sleep.A temperature controlled mattresswould help with this no end.
it’s well known that sleep is affected by diet. In general foods rich in melatonin and tryptophan (an amino acid) have been shown to promote sleep. Cherry juice, dark leafy vegetables, fruit juices and walnuts (among others) are particularly rich sources of this vital hormone.