Sleep, we all know its important but how many of us actually prioritise it. We spend all day thinking about what to eat to be healthy, which supplement to take to perform at our best and how to train to become the most ripped. When it comes to sleep though it seems to be the last thing on the list, when it should be the first.
In todays 24 hour society we wear a badge of honour in declaring that we are ‘too busy to sleep’. Choosing to stay up late working, partying or catching up on the latest Netflix show instead. We are so far from being in tune with our natural sleep-wake cycle that as many as 35% of adults suffer with insomnia and many more with general sleep difficulties.
The benefits of sleep are vast; it relieves stress, lowers your blood pressure, helps you to maintain a healthy weight and muscle mass, boosts your mood and immune system, improves your memory and brain function and could reduce your chances of developing a metabolic disease.
Unfortunately due to the constant stress and busyness in our lives getting to sleep and/or staying asleep is not always easy. However there are a number of things you can do throughout the day to help you get those all important zzz when your head hits the pillow. Here are my top 5:
Avoid caffeine after 2pm
Caffeine can take up to 10 hours to leave your system. It works by stimulating your central nervous system and blocks your adenosine receptors that tell you, your are tired. Switching to decaf or even better water, will help your body to catch up and slow down.
Avoid blue light exposure
As our addiction to technology grows so does our exposure to screens that emit blue light. It tricks our brain into thinking its daytime blocking the release of our sleep hormone melatonin. This can be avoided by putting screens/bright lights away an hour before bed. If you really must check them, change it to night mode and it will adjust to a warmer tone which won’t affect you as much.
Stress has a negative affect on our bodies in many different ways, one being that we find it difficult to switch off when we go to bed. Meditating, yoga, journaling, taking a bath and deep belly breathing are great ways to wind down at the end of the day.
Keep to a routine
Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day will help to strengthen your circadian rhythm. This is our internal clock that regulates our sleep-wake cycle. By changing your routine everyday your body will not be able to keep up or perform at its best.
Avoid eating late at night
Your digestive system slows down throughout the day just like you do. This makes it harder to breakdown what you have eaten later at night. Not only that but your body completes lots of other functions while you sleep, such as; detoxification, cell renewal and repair. If you have eaten something late your body cannot carry out these activities as it will have to use all its energy for digestion instead.