We all need to sleep well to stay healthy. It’s during sleep that our body does most of its healing, as well as processing memories and digesting nutrients from the previous day. Without enough sleep, we’re effectively running on low batteries all the time and everything we do is less efficient as a result.
If you’re not catching enough Zs and are worried about the consequences, it could be time to make a few lifestyle changes. Whether you’re battling insomnia or constantly waking up in the night, these lifestyle changes may be able to help improve the quality of your sleep.
If your bed isn’t comfortable enough, buying a new one ought to be your first priority. Back problems, injuries, pregnancy and a change of temperature can all be good reasons to change your bedding. Your local bed shop should be able to supply mattresses for all needs. You may be able to get more specialist mattresses for more specialist ailments online. If you’re constantly getting hot at night, it could be worth ditching your duvet for a summer blanket. In cold temperatures meanwhile, thermal mattress protectors can add extra warmth.
What you eat, especially straight before going to bed, can have a huge effect on the quality of your sleep. Magnesium-high foods are some of the best tranquilisers you can have before bed. These include almonds, spinach and banana. Kiwi meanwhile has lots of rich anti-oxidants in it to fight insomnia. On the flipside, high carb and high sugar foods such as pizza, chocolate and white bread should be avoided. When it comes to drinks, herbal teas are the best muscle relaxant for helping one sleep, whilst coffee and tea are obviously the worst due to their caffeine content. Alcohol meanwhile, whilst great for getting you to sleep will actually trap you in a light sleep for the duration of the night that doesn’t allow you to get the full health benefits of a sleep cycle, so a nightcap every evening isn’t a good habit.
Your mental state
Stress can create a vicious circle of no sleep – the stress hormone cortisol stops us from getting to sleep and yet without enough sleep we’re more likely to overproduce it the next day. On top of limiting stresses in your life, try to give yourself a boost of serotonin (our happy hormone) before you go to bed that will counter the cortisol. Give yourself time to unwind with a hot bath, or contrastingly do some exercise late at night.
Be careful of shiny screens late at night that could be tricking your brain into thinking it’s daytime – this includes laptops, mobile phones and TVs. Try to partake in activity without a screen such as reading a book or listening to music.
You can also help ease yourself to go to sleep by completing the day with something small and productive. This could anything from housework to organising something. You’ll end the day with a sense of completion that will put your mind at ease.