Getting a good nights sleep is so important, if we don't have a good quality sleep we feel groggy, irritable, down, tired and exhausted. As sleep is so crucial to every part of our lives we need to make sure we're doing it right, because it can greatly improve your health mentally and physically.
Why is sleep so important though? Well, many restorative functions occur when we're getting 40 winks, these include muscle growth, cell & tissue repair and protein synthesis. Sleep is also vital for staying slim and reducing signs of ageing. Also, the better your sleep the more alert and refreshed you feel!
How much sleep should we get? I'm a big believer in the fact everyone is different, the amount of sleep I need could be different to the amount you need. We all have different lifestyles, jobs, demands, ages, health, etc but usually adults need 7-8 hours sleep a night - but that doesn't mean you should go to bed at 3am and wake up 10am! The best hours to sleep are between 10am - 6am, this is the time our body will be better at falling into a deeper sleep and you should feel the more energised and refreshed if you sleep around those timings.
We know how important sleep is, but many of us have trouble drifting off to sleep. I know I toss and turn a lot and often find it hard to quiet my brain, but I've found a few things to do really help me get that good quality sleep I know my mind and body needs.
1. Less screen time. Definitely easier said than done, but if you can try and switch off your laptop and your phone at least 1 hour before going to bed. Staring at a screen is extremely stimulating for the brain and it takes a while for it to wind down afterwards.
2. Skip the caffeine. Many people say coffee doesn't keep them up, but it might do more than you realise. Studies have shown caffeine prevents you falling asleep so quickly, and it also decreases the amount of deep, restful sleep you get. Nicotine has the same effect - put down that cigarette!
3. Stick to a routine. This is quite a tricky one, but once you're in a routine it becomes second nature! Try and go to bed at the same time every night, and get up at the same time every morning - this way your body becomes used to it, and it knows when to start relaxing ready for sleep.
4. Complete darkness. If you sleep with a light on this could be effecting your quality of sleep. A pitch black room increases your natural production of melatonin - the amazing sleep inducer. If you have bright streetlights or a partner who likes the light try using an eye mask.
5. Write your worries down. My mind likes to think about every little problem, every possible concern and replay every moment from the day in my mind as soon as I get into bed...it just doesn't switch off. I like to write things down in a notepad before sleep, that way I get it all out on the paper and my brain isn't so likely to be obsessing over it.
6. Breathing exercises. Namely the 4,7,8 exercise. I was totally skeptical about this before I did it but it's amazing. The idea is that you breathe in through your nose for 4 seconds, hold your breathe for a count of 7, then exhale completely through your mouth for 8 seconds. This is apparently a natural sedative, and the process produces an extremely relaxed feeling on the body.
7. Get comfy! Soft blankets, fluffy pillows, soft pyjamas, whatever takes your fancy. Making sure you're really comfy helps you to relax and reduces any distraction.
I hope these simple tips help!