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  • Writer's picturePammy Gaskin

4 steps to a better sleep- and better health

Groggy, grumpy, brain like a sieve… We all know that we feel bad after a poor night’s sleep but not all of us know exactly why that is, and what we can do about it if poor sleep is a recurrent issue in our daily lives.


The Sleep Foundation, a leader in sleep research and thinking, attributes poor sleep to a number of detrimental physical and mental impacts on our bodies:


  • Cardiovascular disease

  • Diabetes

  • Obesity

  • Immunodeficiency

  • Hormonal imbalances

  • Pain

  • Mental health disorders (anxiety, depression)



The reason for this is quite complex, but can essentially be boiled down to the fact that during sleep, our body is a hive of activity; repairing, storing memories, regulating our emotions, making neurological connections, balancing our hormones and keeping us functioning well during our waking hours.  If that is disrupted, our health and wellbeing is disrupted also.


So, it's plain to see that sleep, and quality thereof, is not to be taken lightly.  But it's not all doom and gloom if you struggle with getting in your 8 to 9 hours of unbroken sleep!  There’s a lot that you can do to improve the quality of your sleep if you are one of the many adults out there not getting the rest you need.  And here’s my top 4 tips to get you on the path towards more restful nights:




  1. Exercise and sunlight:  Getting out in the sunlight during the day, particularly in the morning can help set your body clock.  This body clock is mostly driven by light and dark - which signals to our body to produce cortisol to keep us awake and melatonin to help us get ready for sleep.  Artificial lights in the evening can play havoc with this, so getting out in the daylight gives a clear signal to our body to wake up and help us synchronise with sunrise and sunset.  Combining your daylight exposure with 20mins exercise a day - (a brisk walk or some yoga perhaps?), which has been found to increase sleep quality and speed at which you will fall asleep at night - will set you on the path to success!


  1. Avoid screens right before bed:  This one follows on from the first.  Artificial light signals to our brain to stop producing melatonin and stay awake.  The worst culprits; blue screens such as iphones, ipads and tv.  But actually all artificial light has some level of impact.  If you’re struggling to fall asleep at night, switch off those screens a couple of hours before bed, pick up a book or take up a hobby perhaps; painting, meditation, journaling. All positive steps to quiet your mind in readiness for slumber.


  1. Routine and schedule; In my capacity as an infant sleep coach, i talk about bedtime routines a lot; a bath, a story, a song… but actually even as adults we all have our own bedtime routines, even if we don’t realise it.  Brushing our teeth, washing, locking up the house, all these little rituals help to signal to our body that sleep is coming.  Try to perform the same routine in the same order each night to condition your body to expect sleep shortly after.


  1. Environment; just as too much light keeps us awake, darkness helps keep us asleep. A calm, dark room with comfortable bedding, an eye mask, white noise (or even sounds of nature like rainfall or the sea) which can help to drown out external noise and calm us for sleep.  There is also research which suggests lavender can help induce sleep in number of ways including melatonin production, increased slow wave sleep and has a calming effect on the nervous system - use as a pillow spray to encourage a peaceful slumber.


So, if you are looking for ways to improve your sleep quality and quantity, putting in place some or all of these suggestions over the course of a couple of weeks (be patient, it can take time!) you should start to reap the rewards!


@thesleepremedy

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