How does Sleep Affect Your Health?
Poor sleep is linked to a range of different health problems, including an increased risk for weight gain, blood sugar imbalances and being at risk for mental health problems. Adequate sleep helps to boost your immune system, improves your focus, cognitive ability, as well as to retain more information, and contributes to the healthy growth and development in children.
But how much sleep is enough? Experts recommend that the average adult gets between seven to nine hours, teens nine to ten hours, and younger children need ten or more hours of sleep per day.
Establish an Evening Routine for Quality Sleep
Maybe you had a bedtime routine when you were a child or you have set up one for your own children. The truth is, you're never too old to establish a bedtime or evening routine. It's one of the best ways to promote sleep hygiene and improve the quality of your sleep.
First, choose a bedtime you can stick to every day (or at least Monday to Friday). Aim to set your bed time to 10pm, from there, plan your night to make sure you're in bed and ready to fall asleep for that time. For the best results, start your evening routine in the afternoon. Below is a sample schedule if you're aiming to get to bed by 10pm.
Afternoon (Around 2pm)
Avoid caffeine later in the day, especially if you find you are sensitive to stimulants or have trouble falling sleeping. If you need to rest, take a nap before 3pm. Napping later in the day can interfere with your ability to sleep at night.
2 to 3 Hours Before Bed
While there are always exceptions, after dinner, try not to eat again. Skipping snacking as well as avoiding eating too late can help promote more restful sleep. Your body will always prioritise energy for digestion, so allowing time before bed for your meal to digest means your body can focus its energy on cell repair and rejuvenation as you sleep. Also, limit or avoid alcohol consumption. Although you may think it helps you fall asleep, alcohol prevents your body from achieving the restorative sleep it needs. 1 Hour Before Bed
Turn off all electronics. You've probably heard by now that blue light from tablets, computers, phones and TV can keep awake at night. Blue light seems to suppress melatonin more than other wavelengths of light and can throw off your circadian rhythm.
30 Minutes Before Bed
Find ways to relax of what you enjoy and release the tension from your day. This could include meditation, light stretching, reading a book, listening to music or taking a bath.
Turn off your lights. Your body increases its production of melatonin when it starts to get darker, this is the hormone which helps you get to sleep. Turn off any artificial lights in your room and close the curtains or blinds to block any other outside lighting. It's also easier to sleep if your room is cool, so turn on a fan or turn down the heat. Then it's time to climb in bed and get cozy. Using bed linen from natural material helps your body to breathe, whereas synthetic materials can make you hot which can wake you up and interrupt your sleep.
If you continue to struggle to fall asleep or stay asleep there are supplements may help calm your mind down and ease yourself into sleep. Using a supplement at bedtime can support the routine established and promote sleep hygiene going forward.
Adequate, restful sleep is vital to your overall health and well being. Consider your evening routine another important method of self-care.