Sleep

exercise sleep Oct 05, 2021

When it comes to good health, there are some key pillars that everyone agrees upon:

  1. Sufficient exercise
  2. Maintaining a healthy body weight
  3. A nutritious diet

But oftentimes, even people who tick these boxes can neglect one of the most significant factors affecting our health: Sleep. 

Part of the reason for this is that sleep is often seen as a simple, passive activity to recuperate for our waking lives. However, this is not the case! Science is beginning to understand that sleep involves many active restorative processes that are crucial for our health. 

Some of the important processes that occur during sleep:

  • Your brain lays down new pathways that allow the formation of memories and learning.
  • Chemicals that build up during the day are cleared from the brain.
  • All the tissues and organs of the body undergo restoration and repair.


So based on that list alone, you can see just how important sleep is. When you get enough good quality sleep, there is a long list of benefits:

  • Improved recovery from exercise
  • Improved immunity so you get sick less often
  • Help in reducing  pain
  • Make it easier to stay at a healthy body weight
  • Lowered risk for serious health problems, like hypertension, diabetes and cardiovascular disease
  • Reduced stress, improved mood and reduced risk of depression
  • Increase mental clarity and work performance
  • Better decision making and reduced risk of accidents

 

How much sleep do you need?

Most adults require 7-9 hours of sleep per night, but not all sleep is equal! Consuming alcohol and caffeine in the 4-6 hours before bed time can reduce your sleep quality by preventing you from going into the deeper stages of sleep. Similarly, bright lights from television and phone screens right before bed time can impact your ability to fall asleep and prevent you from getting enough deep sleep.

 

How can you make sure you are getting enough good quality sleep?

Here is a checklist of things that can improve your sleep:

  1. Maintain a consistent bedtime and awakening routine.
    • The best way to do this is by setting your regular wake up time, and working back 7-9 hours to find your bedtime. Make sure you account for the time it usually takes you to fall asleep.
  2. Get a healthy amount of sunlight during the day.
    • Open blinds to let in light or go for a morning walk. Getting in light helps your body set it’s circadian rhythm.
  3. Avoid napping during the day, especially in the late afternoon.
    • If you have to nap, aim for less than 30 mins.
  4. Avoid alcohol and caffeine in the 6 hours before bed time.
    • Also avoid relying on caffeine to overcome daytime tiredness.
  5. If you experience heartburn, avoid foods that cause symptoms in the hours before bed time.
  6. Make sure your bedroom is cool and well ventilated.
    • A drop in temperature is a signal for your body to sleep.
  7. Block out light from the bedroom.
    • Close curtains and blinds to block street lights and cover lights from things like clocks or smoke alarms.
  8. Some people sleep better when they have a continuous, non-distracting ambient sound like a ceiling fan or a phone app that plays white noise.
  9. Keep the bed as a place to sleep.
    • By keeping work and entertainment separate from the bedroom, your body associates lying in bed with going to sleep.
  10. Get into the habit of a relaxing pre-sleep ritual such as a bath, reading with a dim light or another relaxation strategy.


So remember don’t slack off on your sleep!

If you want to watch one of our fun videos on practical tips to improve your sleep then CLICK HERE!

 

References

Baraki, A., & Campitelli, T. (2021). Where should my priorities be to improve my health? | Barbell Medicine. Retrieved 16 September 2021, from https://www.barbellmedicine.com/blog/where-should-my-priorities-be-to-improve-my-health/

Brain Basics: Understanding Sleep | National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. (2021). Retrieved 16 September 2021, from https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Understanding-Sleep

How to Sleep Better - Sleep Foundation. (2021). Retrieved 16 September 2021, from https://www.sleepfoundation.org/sleep-hygiene/healthy-sleep-tips

What is Sleep & Why is It Important for Health? | American Sleep Association. (2021). Retrieved 16 September 2021, from https://www.sleepassociation.org/about-sleep/what-is-sleep/

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