Friday 15 November 2019

Top tips for sleep optimisation

Kirsty Blake Knox

Kirsty Blake Knox

A good night's sleep can drastically improve our mood, our fitness levels and our mental health.

Despite this, sleep remains one of the most neglected areas of health.

While we are willing to spend a lot of time and money investing in gym memberships, and new runners, it's rare that we prioritise our 'sleep routine'.

But here are some easy ways to optimise your sleep.

Do a Brain Dump

We spend so much of our day glued to our phones and screens that by the time we get to bed, we are wound up.

One of the easiest things to overcome this is to do is a 'brain dump'. Around 8pm, take out a pen and paper and scribble down a to-do list, then write down any other concerns or worries in your head. Once you have it down on paper you can put a structure on it. It gives you control over your thought process.

Cut down on caffeine

Everyone knows that having a double espresso before bed is not a good idea. But we all are probably in denial about how much caffeine we consume on a daily basis. It's not just tea and coffee - there are large quantities of caffeine in sports drinks.

It's a good idea to have a 'caffeine cut-off time'. A set time of the day where you switch from caffeine to herbal teas. This will help you drift off more easily later on in the evening.

Eat early

Nowadays people tend to eat dinner very late in the evening. This means your body is digesting food while you're going to sleep.

Ideally you should eat your dinner earlier - there should be two hours between your last meal and the time before you go to bed.

If you are eating out, opt for light proteins such as white fish or turkey which your body finds easier to digest. 

Sleep environment

If your bedroom is messy and chaotic it will affect your sleep. The bedroom needs to be a calm, relaxing and dark space. Simple things can make a big difference - soft lighting and calming colours of paint on the wall.

A good mattress is crucial – you are spending a third of your day on your mattress so invest in a good one. Also try and have a 'no tech before bed' rule - it will help the body wind down.

Movement

Exercise early in the day is a great way to reduce stress levels and help you sleep better. But don't work out too late in the evening. Make sure you have a two hour cool down period before you get into bed - to make sure your endorphin levels have come down.

Alcohol

It’s a myth that a sneaky nightcap makes you sleep better. Alcohol does not improve your sleep. It may help you pass out quickly but the quality of the sleep is poor. On top of that, you will feel dehydrated in the morning.

Oversleeping

A lot of people think that they can 'catch up' on sleep at the weekend. But a lengthy lie-in can throw your sleep pattern out of whack. If you have a lie-in on Saturday rill noon, it will have a knock on impact on your sleep routine for the following week. It’s important to regulate your body patterns. Long lie-ins are detrimental to sleeping well.

Contentment

Being happy with your lot and where you are in life impacts your mental health. Try and take time to appreciate everything that is going right in your life. This will instill a sense of calm and make you sleep better. 

Visualisation

This is the adult version of counting sheep. If you are having difficulty nodding off, think of a happy time or a holiday you're planning in minute detail. This distracts you and helps you relax.

Surround yourself with positive people

This may sound strange but being around people who make you feel good about yourself will help you sleep better. It will bolster your mood and make you feel more at ease in yourself and in your life.

 

Let me know how you get on and any other tips you have and want to share with the Real Health listeners - via email realhealth@independent.ie or contact Karl on Twitter and Instagram @karlhenryPT.

For more episodes and information from the Real Health podcast you can also go to: https://www.independent.ie/podcasts/the-real-health-podcast/

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