There are few things in life that a good night’s sleep can’t solve. No matter how awful we may feel the night before, if we’re fortunate enough to get a good night’s sleep we normally find that we wake up the next morning feeling better than ever. The downside however, is that a lot of us don’t get the recommended 7 – 9 hours of quality sleep each night. In fact, many of us are looking to get 5. A lack of sleep can not only leave you feeling tired and lethargic, it can also put your health at serious risk. If you’re looking to improve your sleeping patterns, or if you simply wish to learn more about sleep, here is your ultimate guide to getting a good night’s sleep.
Why is sleep so important?
Sleep helps prevent stress
Stress is sadly a common part of everyday life for many of us, and things really shouldn’t be that way. Stress can put your heart under strain, it can cause high blood pressure, it can put you in a bad mood, and it can lead to other mental health issues such as anxiety or depression. One of the best ways of combating and preventing stress however, is simply to get a good night’s sleep each night. You see, when you’re tired, you wake up feeling grumpy and irritable. This is because your body secretes stress hormones such as cortisol when you’re tired. By getting enough sleep, you produce less cortisol and subsequently feel less stress and are in a much better mood.
Sleep can reduce blood pressure
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a condition that acts as a precursor for many other medical ailments and can potentially be fatal. Hypertension increases your risk of kidney damage, heart disease, stroke, and heart attack. Sleep however, helps you to relax and unwind, which in turn lowers your blood pressure.
Sleep can fight inflammation
Inflammation in the body can lead to cancer, heart-disease, chronic pain, and much more besides. Stress hormones such as cortisol are mainly responsible for causing inflammation. As sleep helps to reduce cortisol production, sleep can therefore help to fight inflammation in the body.
Sleep promotes general health and well-being
When we’re tired and run down, we often find ourselves more susceptible to illnesses and diseases. This is because when we’re run down our immune systems slow down and don’t perform to the best of their abilities. A weakened immune system means we’re more likely to fall ill. Getting enough quality sleep however, helps to boost the immune system and keep us fit and healthy.
What can we do to get a good night’s sleep?
So, it’s all well and good talking about how great sleep is, but what can we do if we struggle to sleep? With more people suffering from insomnia or failing to get the recommended 7 – 9 hours of sleep each night as recommended by doctors, sleep doesn’t appear to be a luxury that we can all afford. If you struggle to drift off into the land of nod each night, try following some of these handy tips and you’ll be sleeping like a baby in no time at all:
Cut back on caffeine
When people wake up tired in the morning after a bad night’s sleep, they often struggle to function until they’ve had a strong cup of coffee. They don’t just drink the coffee for its taste, they drink it for the caffeine. Caffeine is a stimulant that temporarily gives us a boost in physical and mental energy. Some people however, drink it throughout the day and drink so much that it stays in their system late at night, preventing them from sleeping. To ensure you get to sleep at night, don’t drink or eat anything with caffeine after 5pm. If you want a cup of coffee, switch to decaf instead.
Create the perfect relaxing environment
If your room isn’t relaxing, how can you expect to relax? Take the time to tidy and clean your room so that it’s free from clutter. Get the temperature just right, put clean sheets and bedding on your bed, and perhaps use essential oil diffusers or sleep sprays containing lavender, as this essential oil helps to relax the senses. You know what they say ‘tidy room, tidy mind’ so get cleaning. As a bonus, tidying your room during the day will help you exert some energy so you’ll feel even more tired at bedtime.
Relax before bed
Before you head into your clean and comfortable bedroom and climb into your fresh and clean bed, try to relax your body and mind before. Run yourself a warm bath or take a warm shower and perhaps light a few candles and listen to some calming music. You could even read a book, providing it isn’t too stimulating for you. This brings us to…
Avoid stimulation before bed
When you get into bed, don’t spend hours scrolling through your phone before rolling over and trying to sleep, as the stimulus on your brain will keep you up. If you’re watching a TV show or movie, don’t watch something with action, violence, or horror as again you’ll be overly stimulated, and you won’t be able to switch off your brain when you’re trying to sleep. By all means watch what you want to watch, but just don’t try going straight to bed after. Read a book or magazine or watch something calming and relaxing afterwards.