Sleep – it’s the one thing we need most to function at our continual best, yet, for some it can also prove to be an elusive and frustrating experience. With an overwhelming amount of evidence pointing to sleep deprivation directly affecting our emotional and physical well-being, it’s important to work out a plan to ensure you are getting enough shut-eye for your age. In 2015 The National Sleep Foundation discovered newborns require between 14 – 17 hours, infants 12 – 15 hours, toddlers 11 – 14 hours, preschoolers between 10 – 13 hours, with school-aged children recommended to have between 9 – 11 hours. 8 – 10 hours was consistent for teenagers, with 7 – 9 hours for young adults and an average 7 – 8 hours of sleep suggested for older adults. So that you too can wake refreshed, which will leave you feeling far healthier and more alert in your everyday activities, here are our top tips on the best way to guarantee a good night sleep.
Get in tune with your circadian rhythms
You’ve no doubt heard the term “body clock” before and it’s this inbuilt sleep/wake cycle which is responsible for our circadian rhythm. These patterns of alertness and sleepiness are likely to be more regular and less likely to cause you drowsiness if you keep to consistent bedtimes and rise times. This means no long lie-ins on the weekends, but the benefit is you’ll be far more likely to wake rested and raring to go on a Monday morning because you will have a steady internal circadian rhythm.
Create bedtime rituals (and stick to them!)
You are far more prone to enjoy a restful night sleep if your transition from the waking world to the sleeping one is smooth. There are many activities you can do to ensure this, and by making these into a nightly ritual, you’ll be able to nod off with far more ease and wake more revitalised. Some of the most common night-time habits include enjoying a soak in the bath, reading a book, writing down any worries to free them from ruminating in your mind, watching your favourite TV show, or better yet, practising specific relaxation or meditation techniques. Whatever you decide to do, be sure it doesn’t induce the stress hormone cortisol and you’ll no doubt wake refreshed.
Exercise is essential
Experts agree as little as 10 minutes of exercise a day can help boost your sleep quality, strengthen your circadian rhythms as well as improve your sleep duration. It’s also suggested gentle exercise, such as yoga and tai chi can prime your body and mind perfectly for sleep, especially if you incorporate meditation.
Limit your caffeine and alcohol intake
Even though it’s simply common sense to avoid caffeine in the lead up to bedtime, what might be not as commonly known is half the caffeine you consume at 7 pm will still be circulating through your body at 11 pm. If you are at all susceptible to insomnia, you’d be wise to cut out any caffeinated drinks within 4-6 hours of your desired bed-time, which could work to stimulate your senses rather than relax them. Instead, opt for a warm milk or herbal tea when it’s closer to bedtime, but be sure not to swap it for an alcoholic night-cap. This little indulgence is far more likely to reduce your overall quality of sleep and cause wakefulness during the night.
Don’t forget about diet
The best food choices to ensure optimum sleeping is achieved includes whole-grain bread, pasta, crackers and brown rice, as well as lean protein meals which include chicken, turkey and fish, which will boost your serotonin levels. And never eat a large meal too close to lights out – this will overload your digestive system so aim to finish at least an hour before bed.
Tempted to crawl into bed and checkout out your social media feed one last time before you switch off for the day, or even sneak in a chapter on your eReader? Studies have shown the use of electronic devises delays our circadian rhythms and prolongs the time it takes to fall asleep. It’s one of the biggest culprits to getting a refreshing night’s sleep and one of the hardest habits to break but it’s worth it. Making your bedroom an electronic free zone could work to soothe you into a more refreshing night sleep.
Perfect your sleeping posture
If you’re waking with a stiff neck or sore back, it’s possible your sleeping posture needs perfecting, or you are sleeping with the incorrect type of pillow or mattress. Make sure you invest wisely in a mattress which will help you feel supported and wake refreshed.
In the short term, while you are working on creating a sleep schedule which will allow you to wake refreshed, why not look into massage as a way to alleviate any aggravated pain caused from uncomfortable sleeping conditions? Talk to Hands on Health Care Clinic today to see how we can help.