5 Ways to Help You Get Better Sleep (…and why it’s so important!)
I haven’t met a mother yet, who wouldn’t love to take off for the weekend, to a hotel somewhere – anywhere, perhaps – so that she can enjoy a relaxing and uninterrupted night of…. sleep
Why is sleep so important?
Sleep plays such a critical role on our physical, emotional and mental health – which in turn affects the quality of our life.
The way you think and feel, and the way you cope and manage throughout your day, is partly influenced by the quality of sleep you’ve had (what happened in your brain and body while you were sleeping).
Most of us know (particularly the mums out there!) what sleep deprivation can feel like.
In one word: TORTURE
The effects of sleep deprivation can be instantaneous – such as having a car accident due to a micro-sleep, slower reaction times, or foggy thinking. Or, effects can be more long-term – such as raised risks of chronic health conditions (mental and physical).
In a nutshell, sleep deficiency can affect the way you think (including your memory, motivation to communicate, ability to talk in a coherent manner and ‘find your words’), as well as the way you feel (moods, heightened emotions, reduced tolerance), the way you behave, relate to others, learn and perform at work.
Sleep deprivation, over time, can also lower immunity, increase blood pressure, and increase risks of developing chronic health conditions.
Sleep also helps you maintain a healthy hormone balance.
Basically, sleep helps your brain and body work properly.
Here are 5 Ways You Can Improve Your Sleep:
Regular exercise throughout your week can improve your sleep. Exercise can help reduce symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression, and for many people, this also has a flow-on effect for better quality sleep.
Being mindful of when you’re exercising, and how vigorously you’re exercising seems important too (as little as 10 minutes per day of a good walk can help). You don’t need to go too hard, and for some people, being highly active in the evening can negatively impact their sleep (but we’re all different, so get to know what time of the day is best for you).
Exercise can improve the quality of your sleep, and the duration of your sleep as well.
2. Have Regular Sleep and Wake Times
If you can get into the habit of going to bed at the same time every day, you can help your body’s natural internal clock – known as your circadian rhythm – to be set in a healthy way.
Your circadian rhythm tells your brain and body when to eat, sleep and wake.
Getting between 7-9 hours of sleep every night seems best for most adults to function optimally.
3. Make Sleep-friendly Dietary Changes
Reducing (or avoiding) caffeine, energy drinks and alcohol can be helpful in improving sleep.
Also, eating foods that are high in tryptophan (an amino acid that gets turned into the neurotransmitter serotonin, and then converts into the sleep hormone melatonin), can help promote sleep. These foods include dairy products, and foods high in protein (like turkey, chicken, nuts & seeds), and green veggies, amongst other foods*
*A good health practitioner, nutritionist or naturopath can provide you with some great advice around how to optimise your diet for better quality sleep.
4. Improve Your Sleep Environment
– How comfortable is your bed & mattress?
– Do you look forward to retreating to your bedroom in the evening to get a restful nights sleep?
– What distractions, electrical items or screens do you have around you while your sleeping?
– Are you warm enough?
Answering all of these questions, and making appropriate changes can make a real difference to the quality of your sleep.
Setting yourself up for good quality sleep is important 🙂
5. Reduce Your Stress & Anxiety
There is a whole lot of research linking quality of sleep with stress, anxiety and depression (and other mental health conditions).
Do you struggle to switch off at the end of the day?
Do you lie in bed ruminating over thoughts of the day or week that has passed? …Or, do you worry about future situations, that may never even happen?
If you can start to get on top of the stress that is affecting you each day, you’ll be able to better manage your anxiety and / or depressive symptoms.
By learning relaxation techniques, stress and anxiety reduction tools, changing the way you think about things (from unhealthy, habitual thought patterns, into healthier ones), you can certainly reduce your feelings of stress, anxiety and depression – which can have a positive impact on your sleep quality and sleep duration.
Wendy Gilroy is a Mother of 2, and a professional Counsellor for women. Wendy has a degree in Psychology, a Masters degree in Addiction Studies, and a Diploma of Counselling. She lives in Sydney, Australia, and offers secure ONLINE counselling for women around the world, as well as telephone, face-to-face and home visit services for mums.
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Tips for Reducing Stress and Anxiety in your Day.
Disclaimer: This is for information purposes only. If you have any concerns about your physical or mental health, please consult your healthcare practitioner for medical advice.