|LIFESTYLE NEWS - Getting a good night's sleep is one of the best things you can do for yourself. But for many who live a modern lifestyle, sleep can be one of the most difficult things to come by. Fortunately, with a bit of effort and discipline, most sleep woes can be relieved. |
According to Graham Anderson, principal officer of Profmed, if you aren't getting more than seven hours' sleep a night, your risk factors for many different diseases like heart disease or cancer increase. This is an important fact to be aware of because many people think that the effects of sleep loss are short term - you'll feel tired for a while, but when you catch up, you'll start to feel better.
Sleep can also assist with weight loss. A study by the Care Western University in the United States revealed that women who had less than five hours of sleep a night had a higher risk of obesity. This is because sleep has a direct effect on the hormones that communicate hunger and fullness.
In addition, sleep lowers stress, bolsters your memory, makes you more alert, reduces inflammation, reduces depression and gives the body the time it needs to repair itself and heal illness.
With these benefits, it's incredible that we're not all grabbing 40 winks whenever we can.
Anderson gives a couple of tips to improve your night's rest:
Reduce your caffeine intake. As a simple test, reduce your caffeine intake to a couple of cups in the early part of the day, and assess whether this makes a difference to your nights. Certain medications also have a stimulating effect.
Go to bed at the same time, every night; wake up at the same time every morning. Your body does have an internal clock and it needs to know that at a certain time, sleep starts and that when you've had enough, it ends.
Teach your body the difference between day and night. Try to get as much bright, natural light as possible in the day, and boost melatonin production at night by using dim lighting and not reading from a backlit device like an iPad or computer before bed.
Create a bedtime routine. Keep your room cool, turn your lights down, make your bed comfortable, and allow yourself to unwind a little with a warm bath, a quiet read or gentle meditation before you turn in.
Manage your napping schedule. If you are overtired or have lost sleep, rather nap in the afternoon than sleeping later in the morning. This means you don't disrupt your natural sleeping and waking cycle, but still pays back your sleep debt. But be wary of napping for its own sake, especially if you are suffering from insomnia.
Avoid sleep triggers during awake time. If you find that you get tired after meal times or in front of the television, even if you are getting enough sleep, try to engage in a stimulating activity to wake yourself up. Early sleep or extra napping can often rob you of a good sleep in the early hours of the morning.
Avoid liquids before bed.
Snack if you need to. Test out a few different bed-time snacks to see what works for you - some good suggestions are bananas, yoghurt or cereal.
Give up smoking. Nicotine is a stimulant. It disrupts sleep.
Get your head right. If stress or anxiety are keeping you awake, take steps to improve your situation. It can help to keep a notepad next to your bed to make note of anything that occurs to you at bedtime or even in the middle of the night.
Finally, see your doctor if you really have tried all of these approaches with no success.