How did you sleep?

Published 02 May, 2024

A commonly asked question, but one that can return a wide variety of answers…

Sleep is important for good health, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, people who don’t sleep enough have a greater risk of many health complications, including heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, strokes, and obesity.​

Not only does sleep allow our bodies and brains to recover, it also plays an important role in our habits and motivation. If we feel well rested, we are more likely to take part in healthy habits and feel motivated than if we are deprived of sleep. For example, if you are looking to start a new exercise routine feeling tired isn’t going to help you stick to this. Similarly, if you are trying to reduce the amount of snacks you have, feeling low on energy is probably going to have you reaching for extra snacks to get a boost.

So, what do you do if you struggle with sleep?

What can you do to improve your chances of getting a good night’s sleep and establish a healthy sleeping routine? Try some of the tips below:

  1. Avoid caffeine after lunch as it can take a long time to leave the body, therefore, to reduce the chance of this impacting your ability to switch off, try changing to a decaffeinated drink after midday.
  2. Avoid screens before bed, it’s a common evening routine but one that can cause your brain to stay active when you’d rather be winding down. Try going to bed a little earlier and reading a book, or listening to the radio or podcast so your eyes aren’t focused on a screen.
  3. Have a set time that you go to bed and wake up. Just like with young children, our brains respond well to have a consistent sleep schedule.
  4. Create an ideal sleep environment such as a comfortable temperature and dark room.
  5. If you find your mind is very busy in the evening with lots of thoughts, try journaling and making some lists. Its hard to try and keep everything in your head so take the pressure off and offload everything at the end of the day.
  6. When you do get into bed and feel ready to drift off, take some deep breathes to slow your heart rate, this helps to calm the body and is something you can also do if you wake in the middle of the night.

Small changes can make a big difference

Having the odd night of poor sleep is unlikely to have a major impact on our health, however if you feel that your sleep routine can be improved, have a think about small changes you can make. You don’t need to implement all of the above in one go but perhaps try one or two that feel manageable to you and see if they help.

Something that is important to remember is that if you feel stressed or worried about not sleeping this is likely to cause you to feel more awake. Try simply saying to yourself that you will lay and rest and if you fall asleep then great, but if not you will enjoy the relaxation time. Just taking the pressure off can be enough to send you off to sleep.

There may be certain things that are outside of your control when it comes to your sleep routine, for example shift patterns or young children. Try to focus on the things that you can control and whether there are any changes you could make or work towards.

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