Sleep is without a doubt the most important time of the day. It is our built in life support system and is essential to good health. The quality and quantity of sleep is also of equal importance. For 90% of the population that means 7-9 hours sleep each night and breathing well while you are asleep. However achieving a consistently good nights sleep can be tricky for many people. But it doesn’t have to be, below are my 3 keys to achieving a restorative sleep.
It’s the things we do when we aren’t sleeping that are going to affect how well we will sleep. Our bodies love routine, our world is built around it. Having a regular routine helps your circadian rhythm find its groove. Going to bed at the same time and waking at the same time is key.
Included in routine is also avoiding food and limiting drinks two hours before going to bed. When we eat our body puts a lot of its energy into digesting and is unable to completely relax into a deep sleep. Drinks can also be very stimulating for the body, specifically caffeine, sugar and alcohol. Drinking too much water can also cause you to wake throughout the night for the toilet, affecting your ability to achieve a restorative sleep.
The space in which we sleep also affects our ability to achieve a good nights sleep. Exposure to light affects the hormone melatonin, which prepares your body for sleep. That includes blue light from electronic devices. Your bedroom should be dark and you shouldn’t have a digital clock sitting by your bed with a green light. TVs or electronic equipment, especially your mobile phone should be at least two metres away from the bed.
Noise can also be sleep-disturbing, whether it is from a snoring partner or from other places. The temperature in the bedroom can also be disturbing, ideally the room is between 15 to 19 degrees Celsius. This also means that bedding is appropriate and not too hot or cold.
Other environmental toxins such as mould, dust or chemical sensitivities can also impact sleep. Ensuring bedrooms are clutter free, cleaned regularly and have good ventilation is key to a healthy environment.
Our attitude to sleep can also have a huge impact on the quality we achieve. Firstly we need to prioritise sleep and take it seriously, otherwise it’s unlikely you’ll take the necessary steps to change your habits. Sleep is your built-in life-support system.
Being positive is also key to good sleep. Finish the day by describing or journaling three positive events, no matter how small or insignificant. Don’t try to solve the problems of the world just before going to sleep, and don’t check email or Facebook — these are far too stimulating.
A final thing I like to remember with sleep it to stop stressing if you are actually falling to sleep or not. Instead approach the whole exercise as an opportunity for rest. Lying still in a dark room and focusing on breathing has many benefits and takes the stress out of sleep.
Sleep has a huge impact on our health in many different ways. Restorative sleep is key to good health and needs to be a priority for all. I’ve interviewed Dr. Chris Winter and Dr. Anup Desai on my podcast on these very topics, I encourage you to have a listen as both contain fabulous information. Be well.