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How to get the sleep your body and mind need
It’s hard to overstate the importance of sleep. We all know how hard it is to get up in the morning after spending too little time asleep under the warm covers. And how frustrating it can feel to go to bed only to stare at the ceiling for hours, with just your thoughts for company.
A lack of good quality sleep does not just affect our mood, it can also shift the balance of hormones in our body. Our hormonal balance plays an important role in managing our appetite and also our weight. This means that getting enough good quality sleep can make a big difference in addressing obesity.
Whether it’s not getting enough sleep, interruptions during sleep, or trouble drifting off in the first place, there are plenty of reasons why people say they worry about their sleep. So, we’ve put together a list of tips and tricks to help you get the sleep you need to feel well rested in the morning.
Create healthy routines
- Stick to a sleeping schedule. This means getting up at a same time in the morning no matter what time you went to sleep the night before.
- Short naps of 20 to 30 minutes can help to improve mood, focus and performance. But remember that a nap cannot make up for a lack of night-time sleep.
- Drink a glass of warm milk or chamomile tea to help you feel drowsy before bed – just make sure to avoid caffeinated drinks like coffee and cola.
- Napping too late in the day. It might affect your night-time sleeping patterns and make it difficult to fall asleep at your regular bedtime.
- Eating one to two hours before bedtime. In the evening, completely avoid stimulating food and drink, like dark chocolate, coffee, tea or soda.
- Drinking alcohol before bedtime.
- Smoking before bedtime.
Tips to relax before going to bed
- Read a book or listen to the radio before bedtime. It can help to distract and relax the mind.
- Do relaxation exercises, such as light stretches, to help you relax your muscles.
- Listen to special relaxation music, which use a carefully narrated script and gentle music and sound effects to relax you. There are plenty of mindfulness and meditation apps designed specifically for this purpose.
- Take a warm bath.
- Intense physical exercise two hours before bedtime.
- Anything that may make you alert or preoccupied with thoughts before bedtime.
- Thinking about things that upset you before going to bed. If you find yourself tense, alert, or irritable, do something that is calming or mentally relaxing in the 5 to 20 minutes before you go to sleep.
Make your bedroom a great place to sleep
- Keep your bedroom dark, quiet, and tidy.
- Use ear plugs to reduce the chance of having your sleep disrupted by sound, especially if you live in a noisy environment, like a city.
- Install a diffuser with a calming scent like lavender.
- Using your bed and bedroom for activities other than sleeping and sex.
- Eating in bed.
- Using a TV, computer and mobile phone for at least 30 minutes before bedtime. Research has shown that the type of light that is emitted from their screens can stop you from getting sleepy.
- Planning or problem solving in bed.
Still having sleep trouble?
- If you can’t fall asleep within 15 to 20 minutes of going to bed, get up and go to another room. Then do something calm or relaxing (see the tips about relaxation) until you feel tired.
- Try to be physically active during the day, even something low intensity like staying on your feet or walking.
- If you’re still having trouble falling asleep, don’t hesitate to seek help. Your doctor can help you find a strategy that works for you.
- Some useful tools include keeping a sleep diary or using an app designed to monitor sleeping patterns, such as Sleepio. By keeping track of your sleep and your activity during the day, it can help you figure out what’s stopping you from getting the quality shut-eye you need. For example see the sleep dairy from the National Health Service (NHS) in England.
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