Good quality sleep is one of the foundations of a healthy lifestyle. Not only does it improve the body’s ability to recover from exercise and boost the immune system, but it can also improve memory, moods, and cognitive function. Studies indicate that more than 16 million adults suffer from sleepless nights and sleep deprivation in the UK, so if you’ve ever found yourself tossing and turning in an attempt to get to sleep then you are not alone. Find here – What is Healthy Sleeping and How Can You Make Sure You Get It?
Sleep deprivation can cause all kinds of problems for the mind and body. With up to one in three of us suffering from regularly poor sleep, it’s important to get to the bottom of why that is and work on creating better sleep habits. Poor sleep can lead to issues such as:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Low immunity
- Reduced fertility
- Heart disease
Getting the right amount of zzz’s is super important for helping the body recover from workouts whilst improving mood and cognitive function. It also has the added bonus of keeping those extra pounds off; this is because sleep deprivation reduces the amount of leptin in the body. This is the hormone that makes you feel full while increasing the levels of ghrelin, which is the hunger-stimulating hormone.
A healthy sleep pattern will usually mean you wake feeling refreshed, have plenty of energy during the day, and feel clear-headed and happy. So, how can you ensure your sleep pattern is healthy?
Make sure you are getting enough
The National Sleep Foundation recommends that we get between 7 – 9 hours of sleep every night, but sometimes it’s not so easy to switch off when your head hits the pillow. Falling asleep can be tricky, especially if you have been working hard or exercising late at night, so it’s worth learning a few techniques to let your brain know when it’s time to sleep. A technique that was developed to help WW2 pilots drop off to sleep in less than two minutes is particularly great for those nights when the endorphins from an evening workout are making it hard to fall asleep. This technique focuses on relaxing the muscles and breathing deeply to put the body into relaxation mode extra quickly. Humming also has a relaxing effect on the body and can be a useful sleep technique, as is the three-part breathing exercise. There is no one size fits all approach, so try a few different techniques to find one that suits you.
Ensure your sleep is continuous
Healthy sleep is continuous and does not involve waking regularly throughout the night. Disrupted sleep interferes with the natural sleep cycles and can prevent the body from getting the right amount of sleep from each stage of the cycle. If you are a light sleeper and are disturbed by outside noises, invest in a white noise machine to help drown out the sounds, or use earplugs to muffle them. If you snore or have sleep apnoea, speak to a GP about your options for achieving a more restful night’s sleep. Always make sure you have enough blankets so that you don’t wake up cold at night and try to minimise the effects of noisy bed partners by sleeping in a different room once or twice a week to catch up on rest.
Stick to a schedule
The body has a natural clock known as a circadian rhythm, which is easy to set by simply going to bed and getting up at the same times every day. Even at the weekends! It might feel tempting to have a lie-in to catch up on sleep, but this can play havoc with your body clock, so stick to a regular sleep-wake cycle to set your body’s circadian rhythm and it will be much easier to fall asleep and wake up at the same times every day.
The benefits of sleeping healthily are vast, so it’s important to ensure that you’re getting the right amount of sleep for your mind and body. Make sleep issues a thing of the past and start sleeping healthy!
See also – Hacks to Add to Your Morning Routine