Tips for a good night’s sleep

We all know that cranky, groggy feeling that comes from a poor night’s sleep. But lack of enough quality sleep does more than just make you feel tired and irritable in the short term as it can seriously impact your health and productivity.

Quality sleep is the unsung hero of overall well-being, playing a pivotal role in our physical health, mental resilience and emotions as well as daily productivity. In a world buzzing with constant activity, the importance of a good night’s sleep cannot be overstated. Often overlooked as a mere necessity, but in the same way as our bodies need food and water to function, they also require quality sleep to repair, restore, and prepare for the day ahead.

That’s why getting on track with “sleep hygiene” is so vital. Sleep hygiene simply refers to healthy habits and rituals that help us enjoy better sleep. Here’s why it matters so much:

The Many Benefits of Good Sleep

Good sleep of around 7-9 hours per night for adults provides numerous health benefits including:

  • Physical restoration: During sleep, our bodies repair damaged tissues, strengthen muscles, and build new cells.
  • Mental clarity and focus: Sleep allows our brains to consolidate memories, as well as improving concentration, memory and learning.
  • Mood regulation: Adequate sleep helps regulate our emotions, reducing stress, anxiety, and irritability.
  • Immune function: Sleep strengthens our immune system, making us less susceptible to illness and also promotes illness recovery.
  • Balances hormones that aid weight management: sleep regulates hunger hormones involved in appetite and hunger. Optimal sleep helps with weight management.
  • Can reduce risk of inflammation and disease: Various studies have shown a link between sleep duration and health problems such as heart disease and diabetes.

Now let’s explore some top tips for improving our sleep hygiene:

  • Establish a regular sleep-wake schedule including at the weekend as this will help regulate your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle.
  • Create a sleep-conducive environment: Make your bedroom dark, quiet, cool and device-free as this promotes relaxation and sleepiness. It’s also worth investing in a comfortable mattress and pillow. Mattresses don’t last forever and after the average lifespan of 7 to 10 years they no longer function well for a good night’s sleep.  Using a mattress topper can extend the life of your mattress but it’s not that much help if your mattress has already seen better days.
  • Avoid large meals, caffeine and alcohol before bedtime as these can interfere with sleep quality.
  • Limit screen time before bed as the blue light emitted from electronic devices can suppress melatonin production, a hormone that regulates sleep. If you must work late then downloading an app like f.lux can reduce the blue light emitted from screens that causes the problem.
  • Get regular exercise: Exercise can improve sleep quality but avoid strenuous activity close to bedtime.
  • Wind down before bed: Engage in relaxing activities like reading or taking a warm bath to signal to your body that it’s time to sleep.
  • Daytime napping? If you’re prone to having a nap in the afternoon then set an alarm to limit it to 30 minutes or less. Too much daytime napping interferes with proper sleep at night.
  • See a doctor if sleep issues persist: If you experience ongoing sleep problems, consult your doctor to rule out any underlying medical conditions.

Putting healthy sleep habits in place requires some effort but the long-term dividends for your physical and mental health make it well worth it. By incorporating these sleep hygiene practices into your daily routine you can improve your sleep and enhance your overall health, well-being, and quality of life.