We’ve all been there. Counting down the hours until bedtime, only to find that our brains go into overdrive as soon as our heads hit the pillow. And what makes it worse is that once you hit that “must go to sleep, must go to sleep” mindset, it’s often the last thing that your body will do.
It probably goes without saying, but a good night’s sleep is essential for enabling our bodies to recuperate. Assuming you’re not suffering from a sleep disorder, here are some popular tips on how to get a good night’s rest…
Not literally. What this old adage does imply though is the more popular method of mindfulness. Focusing your mind on breathing, and counting, in order to help you achieve relaxation and not get too caught up in the day’s goings on. The app, Headspace encourages you to count your breaths – one on an in breath, two on out, up to 10. And then repeat. This helps you to focus your mind on something other than not being able to sleep.
Increase Daytime Light Exposure
Your body has a natural time-keeping clock known as your Circadian Rhythm, which affects your hormones, helping you to stay awake and telling your body when it’s time to go to sleep. A recent study found that two hours of bright light exposure during the day increased the amount of sleep by two hours and sleep efficiency by 80%. *Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12789673).
Decrease Evening Blue Light Exposure
Blue Light (which is emitted from phones, laptops and TVs) tricks your body into thinking that it’s daytime. There are several ways you can reduce blue light exposure in the evening…
- Wear glasses that block blue light.
- Download an app, such as: https://justgetflux.com/ to block blue light on your laptop or computer.
- Install an app (available on Android or iOS) that blocks blue light on your phone.
- Stop watching TV at least two hours before bed and keep your phone away from the bedside table.
Sounds obvious, but did you know that consuming caffeine up to six hours before bed can significantly worsen your sleep quality? *Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24235903. Switch to decaf in the afternoon and avoid energy drinks.
Avoid Sleeping In
It’s tempting to try and catch up on some zzzzs at the weekend. However, many sleep studies have highlighted that irregular sleep patterns have a reverse effect on overall sleep quality, altering your Circadian Rhythm and levels of melatonin. Stick to the same bedtime and wake time whenever you can.
In people with severe insomnia, exercise offered more benefits than most drugs. Exercise reduced time to fall asleep by 55%, total night wakefulness by 30% and anxiety by 15% while increasing total sleep time by 18% (source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20572421). Exercising during daylight hours is one of the best ways to ensure a good night’s sleep. Just don’t leave it too late in the day as this may have the reverse effect.
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