Improve Your Sleep Quality Every Night With These Ten Tips

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When we talk about lifestyle, overall health and well-being we all think “diet and exercise”. But I very much consider sleep too. It’s the foundation of a healthy lifestyle. If we aren’t sleeping well, we don’t have the energy to exercise and tend to eat poorly. Lack of sleep stimulates our hunger hormone ghrelin and suppresses our satiety hormone, leptin. This makes us more likely to overeat as your body isn’t properly recognising that we’re full. I know I find myself grazing a lot more when I haven’t slept well. Being sleep deprived can also impact our mood, making cranky and short-fused. Furthermore, being chronically sleep deprived weakens our immune system and make us more susceptible to picking up coughs, colds and flu.

If you’re not sleeping well and struggling to get 7-8 hours a night, you need to look at your “sleep hygiene”. Sleep hygiene is the term used to describe habits that enable us to get a better nights rest. Here are my top 10 sleep hygiene tips…

Caffeine

If you’re not sleeping well, cut back or eliminate caffeine. This means tea, coffee, Coke, Diet Coke, energy drinks etc. Caffeinated drinks stimulate us and disrupt our sleep. They also acts as diuretics, makes us pee and therefore cause us to wake up to go to the loo mid snooze. Ideally we need to steer clear of anything caffeinated from 12 noon. Switch to decaf or green tea once it hits midday.

Smoking

There are many reasons to kick the habit and poor sleep is one of them. The nicotine acts as a stimulant and very much disrupts sleep.

Alcohol

Having a nightcap or a glass of wine with dinner may help you nod off but it won’t result in restful, restorative sleep. Once the effect wears off you’ll wake up and feel dehydrated.

Temperature

In order to sleep well, body temperature needs to be optimum. The room should be cool and well ventilated. Body temperature rises overnight so it’s important the room is kept cool.

Darkness

The room needs to be dark and remain dark overnight. We need darkness to stimulate our sleep hormone “melatonin”. Blackout blinds can help but eye masks are also very handy and offer a quicker and more affordable solution.

Phone and Screen Use

Ideally, our beds are used for sleep only. But if you must look at your laptop or phone in bed coming up to bedtime, switch the screen settings to night mode; the warmer colour on screens during night mode poses less of an insult to our ideal nighttime physiology.

Quietness

It’s important your sleep environment is peaceful and quiet. Sometimes it’s impossible to control outside influences to your sleep environment but using earplugs can help.

Routine

Having a bedtime and wake time that you stick to is proven to help you sleep better. If your favourite show is on after your bedtime, watch it on catch up. Weekends are often disruptive and result in sleep inertia so sticking to your routine as much as possible is best.

Stress

Stress is a huge reason for poor sleep. Managing stressors throughout by maintaining healthy habits like exercising and eating well help reduce stress and are important for good sleep. Furthermore, don’t schedule potentially stressful phone calls or check emails close to bedtime. They can be tackled in the morning.

Fresh air

Getting out under the sky at some point during the day can help your melatonin production at night time. It’s tricky this time of year to see actual daylight but maybe ask a colleague to go for a walk at lunch hour with you. The benefits of fresh air are endless and better sleep is certainly one of them.
Doireann O'Leary

Doireann O'Leary is a Cork-based doctor and health contributor for The Style Edit. She's also a popular blogger and social media influencer with focus on healthy living, fashion and lifestyle. Dr. Doireann O'Leary. MB BCh BAO.

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