Whether you have a physically demanding job, lead a hectic lifestyle or spend all day anchored to a chair at an office desk, we all understand the importance of getting a good night’s sleep. Rest replenishes our minds and our bodies and is necessary for healthy functioning. It helps to regulate our mood, improves our memory and strengthens our learning capabilities.
However, for a lot of us, getting a good night’s sleep is often easier said than done, as our daily lifestyles don’t always allow us the time needed to have an optimal rest. For this reason, we’ve developed a quick and easy guide to help everyone enjoy a more adequate bedtime slumber.
Delving into the science behind sleep reveals that it is largely controlled by biological rhythms, known as circadian rhythms, which play an important role in determining our sleep patterns. These rhythms are in turn governed by our body’s master clock which is responsible for producing melatonin, a hormone that makes us feel drowsy and helps to lower our body temperature.
Understanding the mechanics behind sleep has enabled us to create a list of things we can all do on a daily basis to help encourage a more effective sleep:
- Do some exercise at the beginning of your day – this helps to fortify your body’s cortisol rhythm, which is greater during early mornings. Cortisol is an important hormone that activates the body’s anti-stress and anti-inflammatory functions
- Expose yourself to some sunlight – our skin contains photoreceptors that help balance the levels of serotonin and melatonin in our bodies
- Adjust smartphone brightness levels – engage the night time settings on your smartphone which decrease screen brightness levels at night.
- Food and alcohol consumption – before going to bed, stay away from all snacks and beverages that raise your blood glucose levels. This means no sugar and no alcohol.
- Have a regular nightly routine – if you have young children, you’ll understand how crucial it is for them to have a set routine to help them get to sleep at night. Grown-ups are the same. If possible, be in bed by 10 o’clock. Put on some soothing music, read a novel, or indulge in some other relaxing activity that helps prepare you for nap time.
- Ensure your room isn’t too hot or too cold – a room’s temperature affects your ability to sleep. For most, an optimal bedroom temperature is between 16 and 20 degrees Celsius. Those who choose to set the temperature outside of these suggested limits using a thermostat, risk hindering their sleep, especially REM sleep.
- Use a foam roller or therapeutic pillow – foam rollers are a great way to massage your body before going to bed, while therapeutic pillows provide a host of benefits including increased comfort, enhanced breathing, circulation, improved spinal alignment and more.
- Use window blinds – aside from having a pleasant ambient temperature when you’re about to nod off, your bedroom should also be suitably dark. Window blinds or even sleeping masks are a good idea, especially for those who work night shifts and need to sleep during the daytime.
- Sleep in the nude – going to sleep unclothed or with loose fitting sleepwear helps with lymphatic drainage, a process that can help to reduce headaches, swelling and soreness and can also promote healing in post-operative or post-injury body tissue. Additionally, lymphatic drainage also helps the body to relax.