September is Sleeptember
Sleeptember is an awareness campaign set up by The Sleep Council that focusses on why a good night’s sleep is so important. We’re in full support of getting restful, restorative sleep; it’s just as important as eating well and exercising regularly, yet many of us don’t find time for it or just aren’t getting enough of it.
Here we look at a few triggers for bad sleep patterns and how they can be resolved.
Stress and bedtime
Stress and anxiety can play havoc with sleep and worrying about money or a hefty work schedule are often the main culprits. Our brains become too alert when we’re stressed, our heart races and we become too stimulated to sleep.
TO HELP REDUCE STRESS AT BEDTIME…
- Keep a notebook by the bed and write it all down
- Relax before bed with a warm bath or some gentle stretching
Establish a good wind down routine
How much sleep should we be getting?
Sleep is vitally important to our physical, mental, and emotional health and wellbeing. Fact. It also aids memory and learning. Even though seven to eight hours is thought of as a good amount, it’s the quality of sleep rather than the quantity that really counts.
You’ll know if you’re not getting enough sleep if you feel sluggish and not able to function as productively as you normally would. A good night’s sleep will make you feel refreshed and ready to take on the world and when it comes to the actual number of hours sleep you need, that’s down to what your specific body needs.
THE PATH TO QUALITY SLEEP…
- Go to bed and get up at the same time every day, including weekends (sorry)
- Avoid caffeine 4-5 hours before going to bed
- If you don’t fall asleep within 15 minutes, get up and try a relaxation technique
How does long term sleep deprivation affect us?
We live in a more ‘connected’ and online world than ever before, and the recent lockdown months have only compounded this. Over using technology just before we go sleep has become common place, addictive almost, but sadly, it does more harm than good. Whilst it may feel like it’s a bit of quiet time to catch up on emails and social media, it’s not doing our sleep routines any favours.
Long term sleep deprivation can have serious consequences for our health and has been linked to serious health problems such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and strokes. Getting a good night’s sleep empowers our immune system and allows our bodies to undergo vital maintenance and repairs while we sleep, along with replenishing our energy stores.
TIPS TO CREATE A BEDROOM MADE FOR SLEEP…
- Your bedroom should just be for sleep and rest
- Make sure it’s not too hot or too cold – find that perfect temperature
- Make your bedroom as dark as possible
Leave your screens downstairs if you can
Looking after your body
Diet, alcohol, and caffeine consumption can all negatively impact our sleep. But it can feel like a vicious circle… poor sleep can result in numerous cups of caffeine during the day to stay awake, pick me up food, followed by a glass or two of alcohol in the evening. Sadly, your sleep patterns will end up being disrupted, and the cycle starts all over again.
It’s well known that caffeine, alcohol and (restorative) sleep are not the best of friends. The good news is that they don’t have to be cut out altogether but having them at particular times of the day and keeping within recommended limits will go a long way to help achieve restful, quality sleep. Equally, there are certain foods that can help calm the brain and encourage sleep.
GOOD THINGS TO EAT AND DRINK…
- Avoid caffeine 4 – 5 hours before bed – instead, opt for a hot milky drink or herbal tea
- Avoid large meals and spicy food close to bedtime
- If you need a snack, go for one that contains complex carbohydrates, protein and calcium which makes milk and yoghurt some of the top sleep-inducing foods around
Take this month to focus on your sleep habits and routines and just the smallest adjustments to your lifestyle can make a big impact on your quality of sleep.
Sleep well this September.