Recently, sleep has had a status upgrade. No longer is it something we skip when we get a better offer – sleep is the best thing on offer.
We all know that deep, quality sleep is vital for optimal health and wellbeing – supporting our brain health and cognitive function, immune system and metabolic health. On the other hand, sleep deprivation has been linked to a myriad of health issues. Poor sleep can also affect key processes within the body and disrupt gut flora.
Despite these facts, however, deep, restful sleep remains out of reach for many of us. With the stresses of modern life, screens and overcrowded social schedules leaving us wired, deep sleep can seem like a dream.
Here's how to enjoy some serious shut-eye and reap the rewards of deep, restorative sleep...
Schedule your shut-eye.
Science says that most adults need between eight and nine hours sleep each night and women, need even more during menstruation. While it may seem silly to schedule your snooze time, the truth is, it’s all too easy to skip unless you carve out the time in your calendar. Confine catch-ups with friends to the weekends and if you have a heavy week at work ahead, ensure you’re getting to bed early in preparation. If you do have a late night, skip your early morning workout the next day and rest. Remember, consistency is key.
Create a sleep sanctuary.
Your sleep environment is also vital so keep your bedroom calm, quiet, dark and cool. Start by removing all sleep disruptors including televisions and electronic devices. And, invest in your sleep space. Install shutters or blackout curtains and splurge on some beautiful bed linen, a quality mattress and decent pillows that’ll make you want to linger for longer. A ceiling or pedestal fan will help to boost airflow, as will adding an indoor plant to your bedroom. Lastly, try to find a warm reading light or install a dimmer switch to help trigger melatonin production. Remember, your bedroom should be for three things only – reading, sex and sleep.
Exercise regularly – but not too close to bedtime.
Research shows that regular exercise may improve sleep quality and also help us to stay alert and reduce daytime sleepiness. It's important to note, however, that some people report having difficulty sleeping if they exercise too close to bedtime. If this sounds like you, but you like to move around in the evenings, choose gentle yoga or a short walk after dinner to help you unwind before bed.
Quieten your mind.
Before bed, it’s essential to switch gears inside your head from full speed to sleep mode. A guided meditation, gentle yoga sequence, a warm bath, curling up with a book or deep breathing exercises can all be useful tools in the quest for deep sleep. Developing a few evenings rituals can also help to set the stage for satisfying sleep.
Do you have any nighttime rituals? We'd love to hear from you!