Sleep expert reveals the best way to get a good night’s sleep

by Gazette Reporter
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The festive season just past has the habit of knocking our sleep cycles out of synch simply because we haven’t stuck to our usual routines.

According to sleep expert Dr Lindsay Browning, sleep is absolutely critical to our overall health and well-being. Getting the right amount of sleep for our age is associated with a reduced risk of depression, anxiety, certain types of cancer, diabetes, obesity, heart disease, stroke, and dementia, as well as a boosted immune system. For so long people have neglected sleep, thinking of it as an inconvenience, but only in recent years has science shown how incredibly important sleep is.

Why do we struggle with our sleep pattern after the festive period and what we can do about it?

We sleep better when we have a regular routine, and over the festive period, we may find that we are going to bed and waking up at very different times than usual. Also, increased amounts of alcohol disrupt sleep quality. Plus, we may struggle to sleep after eating large quantities of rich food, or caffeine laden chocolates. Rather than worrying about it all too much over the festive period, I would recommend that you start moving your bedtime and wake time more towards normality in the days before you go back to work. Also I would suggest having some alcohol free days and making sure that your festive diet includes some fruit and vegetables.

Why is exercise so important to help aid our sleep?

When we increase our exercise levels, we increase the amount of deep sleep that we have. Deep sleep is the part of sleep where our bodies physically repair. If we have had lots of deep sleep during the night we tend to wake up reporting that we feel much more refreshed too.

Protectivity’s top tips on how you can improve your sleep:

  • Take the time to unwind -make your evening as relaxing as possible, by listening to calm music or taking a long warm bath. Just be aware that a shower will have the opposite effect so try avoiding them at night.
  • Eat healthy meals regularly – it can be very hard to get to sleep if your stomach is rumbling, or if you’ve eaten a large meal close to bedtime. When planning your evening meal try paying attention to what, and how much, you eat in, to ensure you are satisfied.
  • Avoid alcohol, caffeine at night – caffeine causes hyperactivity and wakefulness, so if you can, avoid caffeine at least six hours before you go to bed. Doing this will give you a better chance of falling asleep easily. 
  • Do not watch television in bed – this may also increase alertness. The brain could decide that bedtime is for watching television and refusing to sleep.
  • Exercise regularly – exercising during the day will sufficiently tire you out and sleep will come faster at night.
  • Limit screen time – in the hour leading up to your bedtime, turn off all your screens (phones, laptops, computers and iPads). Try reading a book or writing a journal.
  • Never oversleep – oversleeping may set the body clock to a different cycle. This will make trying to fall asleep much harder.

 To view the full research: https://www.protectivity.com/knowledge-centre/how-to-prioritise-sleep-for-muscle-recovery/

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