Restful and restorative quality sleep makes a big difference to your well being. Are you getting the sleep you need – or are these sleep saboteurs affecting your health?
You’ve probably heard all about why sleep is so important. Getting the right amount of quality sleep is essential to help your immune system, your psychological well being, your energy levels, and even your weight.
Unfortunately, thanks to busy lifestyles, stress, illness, and life events like pregnancy, good quality sleep is not always an option. But there are things you can do to improve your sleep. You can start by identifying these common sleep killers – the habits and actions that may be thwarting your ability to get good rest. See which of these you can identify with, and discover how you can turn them around to make life better.
1) Not Enough Natural Light in the Daytime
Your good sleep starts during the day. If you are indoors all day, with no access to natural light on a regular basis, your sleep will start to suffer. Your body clock becomes out of synch, and you develop a different rhythm which results in disrupted sleep, and less restful sleep. Being outside and in natural light during the day helps your body clock regulate itself, which leads to deeper sleep and less trouble falling asleep.
2) Eating Close to Bedtime
It is best to curb your eating up to four hours before you go to sleep, so you have a good amount of time to digest your food. Eating right before bed can upset your digestive system as you lie down, and make it harder to fall asleep as you continue to digest your food.
3) Excessively Sugary Diet
It is not a good idea to load up on sugars at any time of the day, but for your sleep it is particularly bad at night. It causes a spike in blood sugar and the subsequent crash will make it difficult to get to sleep, or it may wake you up a short time later.
4) Going to Bed at Different Times Each Night
Many people go to bed later and wake up later at the weekends, but this can be a problem for your sleep. It is much better to have a regular sleep and wake time, so that your sleep hormones are properly regulated and your body gets used to when it is time for some shuteye.
5) Caffeine in the Afternoon
As you would expect, caffeine is not going to help you sleep better. And having it in the afternoon – some people even suggest you stop drinking caffeine or eating caffeinated foods after 1pm – can make it very difficult to get to sleep. It is a good idea to have a caffeine-free afternoon every day.
6) Not Dealing with Stress
A small amount of stress is inevitable and can be dealt with, but if you experience significant levels of stress over a long period of time your sleep will suffer. Do all you can to deal with stress in the way that is most productive to you – meditation, yoga, exercise, talk therapy……
7) Too Much Light in the Bedroom
Try to remove all forms of artificial light from the bedroom for when you go to sleep. Even light from an alarm clock can affect you. Have blackout curtains at the windows if you have artificial light coming from outside.
8) Too Much Heat in the Bedroom
It can be tempting to keep the bedroom nice and warm and cozy, but anything above 70 degrees is not conducive to restful sleep.
9) Late Nights
It stands to reason that going to bed late is probably going to be a sleep killer. Experts also say there are additional health benefits associated with the hours of sleep you get before midnight. You have to find your own pattern but it is recommended that you try to get to bed around 10pm each night.
10) Drinking Alcohol Before Bed
While alcohol may help you to fall asleep, you will soon be waking up again as alcohol actually is a stimulant and you will experience awakenings. Try to limit alcohol consumption at night and keep within a healthy limit, not too close to bedtime.
If you have a deadline it is tempting to work on your laptop from the comfort of your bed, but this can create a link between the bedroom and stress. Keep your bedroom for sleeping and for sex, and remove all items associated with work from the room.
12) Watching the Clock at Night
If you can’t fall asleep or you woke up and can’t get back to sleep, avoid staring at the clock as this piles on the stress. Keep clocks facing away from you for quality sleep. If you cannot get back to sleep after around 20 minutes, get up and do something restful in a dimly lit room until you feel sleepy.