Good quality sleep is vital for optimum health. Just as we need food and water, we need rest for survival. During sleep, the nerve cells regenerate, energy is restored, and the brain gets rid of unwanted toxins. So, Why do many people suffer from poor quality sleep and how can we ensure our nighttime slumbers are restorative and healing?
It’s true to say many of us live hectic lives. Juggling work, children, families, and life’s upsets can leave us exhausted, affecting our ability to get a good night’s rest. With recent world events weighing on our minds, many struggles to get the sleep they need to feel refreshed and revived.
When you have a lot going on in your life, it is very difficult to relax. You may feel like you could sleep for eternity, but when you climb into bed, your thoughts race like the fastest train, leaving you anxious and exhausted. Adopting some healthy habits to incorporate into your routine may help you on the road to dreamland.
Limited Screen Time
Device use is at an all-time high. Being parted from our phones can sometimes feel like we’re missing a vital part of ourselves. But it’s necessary to keep devices in their place, especially when relaxing before bed. Exposure to the blue light emitted from phones, tablets, and TVs disrupt your circadian rhythm, which is your internal body clock that regulates the sleep-wake cycle. Our bodies tune with the environment and produce hormones, like melatonin, when natural sunlight decreases. This starts the process of winding down in the evening. The blue light from devices suppresses melatonin, causing our brains to stay alert for longer.
Turning off, or putting devices away a few hours before bed will help relax the mind in preparation for sleep. Even exposure to blue light during the day can affect nighttime rest. But we can’t eliminate it. It’s worth having Block Blue Light glasses that you can wear in front of the computer or in bed at night. They block all frequencies that disrupt the circadian rhythm and help you fall asleep faster and get a better quality night’s sleep.
Limit Food and Drink
Eating before bed doesn’t give your digestive system time to rest and revive. Our bodies are continually performing functions we are unaware of. If we eat a meal near bedtime, our digestive system will continue to work hard, resulting in heartburn and indigestion. Also, the action of lying down is not conducive to good digestion and could disrupt sleep, so always make sure your last meal is 2-3 hours before sleep time.
Caffeine found in tea and coffee is a stimulant, and often people drink it to keep awake because it can increase concentration and improve mental performance. However, consuming it at night can disrupt sleep and reduce your total sleep time because of the effect on your central nervous system. It also takes a long time to leave your system, so it’s best to stop drinking caffeine around 6 hours before bed.
Adopting a healthy routine before bedtime can help your brain associate your new practices with sleeping. A warm bath with essential oils and candles will relax your body and mind and help calm any racing thoughts.
Turning off gadgets and reading before bed is a great way to wind down. Choose a book that isn’t too stimulating, and you should feel your eyes drifting off to the land of nod in no time. If you aren’t keen on reading, you could try some non-screen activities like drawing, listening to an audiobook, or journaling. You could even try some old fashioned knitting or sewing to unwind.
Meditation has become very popular in recent years and quite rightly so. Meditation is an ancient practice that has been used for centuries to produce feelings of calm and serenity. You don’t have to meditate at night to feel the benefits. There are many books, podcasts, YouTube videos, and audiobooks with ideas to follow if you’re unsure how to do it. Meditation involves controlling the breath and focusing the mind on slowing down thoughts and concentrating on the moment. Practising meditation produces the same body reaction that happens during the early stages of sleep; the pulse slows, blood pressure and hormones decrease. Learning how to meditate effectively means that you can utilise that skill and you’ll have an easier time drifting off when you want to lead to a night of deep and refreshing sleep.
However, you decide to address your sleep issues, make it a priority! Inadequate sleep can lead to a plethora of other health problems, so addressing any issues now and developing a positive and calm nighttime environment will ensure a healthy future.