6 Ways to improve your sleep

You are here because you are wondering how to improve your sleep, and we can help. Laying in bed trying to get to sleep is never fun, constantly tossing and turning just simply trying to switch off for the day.

Perhaps you have set up a poor routine where you go to bed late and wake up late. This can mean that you won’t be able to sleep until late. Not to worry though as there are many things that can help you sleep better, as well as things to avoid at night time to help you take back control of your sleep. By definition sleep is – “a condition of body and mind which typically recurs for several hours every night, in which the nervous system is inactive, the eyes closed, the postural muscles relaxed, and consciousness practically suspended.”

It's no secret that sleep is important, however, most of the population are suffering from sleep deprivation and there are many harmful side effects including increased risk of heart disease, stroke, cancers, poor performance, fatigue, memory loss, and many more.

What can help improve sleep?

Chamomile tea

Chamomile tea Is simply wonderful, it is a natural painkiller and induces sleep. If you have it consecutively each night, it will improve your sleep massively and that is just one thing that you can do. This is one of the most powerful herbal teas on the market. If your children struggle to sleep at night they could definitely benefit from a natural herbal tea and many parents find that using certain sleep music for kids can help them.

Valerian root & hops capsules

These tablets are a natural sleep remedy and are to be taken 1 hour before bed. They can make you feel extremely tired and a little drowsy. For them to work effectively you must be in the sleep environment (i.e. in bed, with the lights off, trying to sleep.)

Mindfulness

Mindfulness is the single most relaxing thing that you can do, it is the practice of controlling your breathing. If this type of guided meditation is done correctly it can help rid your mind of negative thoughts.

There are many videos on YouTube that can help with mindfulness. Going to sleep whilst feeling emotions such as anger, anxiety, worry is not good for your mental health. It may even end up interpreting into your dream, luckily enough mindfulness can help you in regards to controlling your emotions.

Aches?

Some people tend to suffer from aches, mainly in the back region. This pain can be made worse by sleeping on the bed in specific positions. This is why one study suggests that sleeping on a hard floor could be beneficial. I personally wouldn’t like to sleep on the floor but then again, if I was in pain and I knew that it might help, it would definitely be considered.

How much sleep do you need?

As a teenager my sleep routine was poor, I would be awake most of the night and sleep until past midday. Then I would wake up, eat, and repeat. As soon as I became an adult with responsibilities (i.e. kids) The story changed slightly. I now prefer my sleep a lot more and wouldn’t dream of staying up all night. However, I am still guilty of going to bed later than I probably should.

The main reason why I go to bed late every night is that I simply love my job. I work most of the day and work late into the night. I don’t have to, it's a choice. As soon as I get started writing an article, I don’t want to sleep. The problem for me is that even when I finish work late, I then need to go through the phase of settling down and this can take a while especially when work is on my mind. But the settling down to relax phase can last an extra hour or two.

How much sleep we need varies depending on our age. Newborn babies will happily sleep all day and that is nothing to be concerned about. Toddlers need around 12 hours of sleep each night. Kids aged 3 to 12, need between 10 & 12 hours each night.

For teenagers and adults, we only need around eight to nine hours per night. Although more sleep does come with its health benefits and is known to provide better concentration, energy levels, and brainpower. Many parents wonder how much sleep teenagers need especially considering that many teenagers can sleep right through lunchtime.

I’m not sure why we need less sleep as we get older, although one thing is for sure, that sleep definitely becomes more important as you get older and if you miss out, you’ll know about it. Even animals such as dogs need at least 12 hours of sleep each day to be able to function properly.

Health benefits of good sleep include reduced stress, lower blood pressure, strengthening the immune system, regulating hormones, help control appetite, improved mood, improved intelligence, help you fight pain, reduce the risk of diseases, and improves overall health.

How does caffeine affect sleep?

Caffeine is one of the biggest causes of poor sleep. It is found in coffee, tea, energy drinks, some soft drinks and even chocolate. This stimulant has been known to keep people awake at night. What you should do is reduce how much you are having and the times that you are having it. You can still enjoy your morning coffee but maybe don’t have one within the 6 hours leading up to bedtime. Create some kind of rule that you don’t drink any caffeinated drinks past 12am.

Blue light and what it does

Blue light is often overlooked when it comes to getting enough sleep. The fact of it is, is that blue light that is found in your television screens, mobile phones, and other tech equipment that you own. Is more often than not to blame for your lack of sleep, why? Blue light works similar to sunlight, it makes your brain think that it is daytime, thus reducing tiredness. It has been known to affect your cortisol levels which also increases the stress hormone within your brain.

To take back control of your sleep, you should avoid using technology for at least 2 hours before bed. This means turning your phone and the TV off. You may be thinking but what will I do for entertainment in the evening? The brutal fact of it is that once it is dark outside, you are not meant to be exposed to that light. If outside it is dark, it should stay dark. If you did want some light the best type is natural candlelight as it has a lot less blue light. Things you can do instead of talking to your partner, play board games, etc.

This is the perfect time of your day to have a digital detox. To avoid the temptation of going on your phone you should create some rule that you do not have phones in your room. Need it as an alarm, why not get an alarm clock?

Working in your bedroom is a bad idea

Some other things that may impact your sleep are if you spend too much time throughout the day in your room. Your bedroom is a place where its primary focus is to sleep. Doing activities throughout the day such as working from home or playing an instrument can make it hard to switch off from your day. Thus causing you to struggle to sleep.

Sleep is one of the most important things that you can do for your health, lack of sleep can cause many types of illnesses including insomnia. Insomnia is the inability to fall asleep during the night, but it can also affect your mood, energy levels, and even your ability to function correctly. Lack of sleep has been associated with depression and anxiety.

How much sleep is too much?

Yes, you may be surprised but you can sleep too much. Anything more than 9 hours is considered too much sleep and it comes with its own set of risks. If you do it on a regular basis, you increase the risks of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and death overall. This information is based on several studies. Not only can it cause those illnesses that are detrimental to your health but it can also affect your mental health well being and sleeping too much can surprisingly cause depression. I love my sleep but this is evident that too much of anything good is bad right? 

You should aim for at least 8 hours of high-quality sleep each night for optimal performance the next day. So we know how much, we need but how do we make sure that it is high quality?

This depends on many factors of things to do and not to do. Leave it at least 2 hours after eating before you go to bed, otherwise, it can affect your digestion and cause some problems here. Avoid all types of caffeine for 6 hours before you go down for the night. Ensure daily outdoor exercise because not only is it good for you, will help you doze off, it will also reduce stress levels.

The best thing to do before you sleep is to talk to your partner or read a book using natural candlelight. We use light to see, and our eyes are extremely talented at adjusting to low and bright light conditions. Whilst it is important, not all light is created equally, nothing really is.

So what light is the best for us? Well, as a general rule, artificial light in the evening is negatively correlated with affecting our levels of melatonin that can lead to sleep deprivation.

With this in mind, with artificial lights from our technologies such as lamps, phones, tv, etc, we discover that the harm comes from blue light, but that's not to say that it's bad? After all the sun has a blue light, it is all around us, but it should be avoided before bed as it mimics the sun at messes with our internal body clock.

Candlelight does not emit as much blue light as artificial does, so it will not negatively affect levels of melatonin that lead to poor sleep quality and sleep deprivation. You should always make sure that the candle flame is extinguished before you sleep, and never leave candles unattended.

Less than 6 hours of sleep

Getting around 6 hours or less of sleep per night is really not good for you. Not only are you putting yourself at risk of developing mental health, illness, and disease but you are also boosting the chances of you developing a sleep condition that could get worse over time. The single most important thing that you can do for your health is sleep well. If you need to wake up early then get to bed earlier.

The best way to help control your sleep to make sure that you stay healthy is to set a routine that you can complete each night and the above tips should all help you. I wish you the best of luck and now I must go and try to get some sleep.

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