It’s no secret: a good night’s sleep (and healthy sleeping habits) plays an important role in achieving optimum health. In fact, over the years, numerous studies have shown that a lack of sleep is linked to an increased risk of obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
So in order to make the most of your sleep, here are four sure-fire tips to help improve your sleep:
- Spend less time in your bedroom
Your bedroom is supposed to be a sanctuary and your bed is there to be slept in. So using your bedroom to do work, watch television or streaming the latest blockbuster films on your laptop, or any other activity that is not associated with sleep, sends the wrongs signals to the mind and body.
Ultimately, you want to be in your bedroom when you are looking for some peace and quiet – unwinding from the hustle and bustle of the world. Making your bedroom a technology-free zone is one of the best things you can do to improve your quality of sleep.
- Establish a routine
We all have a morning routine – waking up, drinking that first cup of coffee, taking a shower and having breakfast before rushing out the front door.
Similarly, you should try to establish a bedtime routine where, after a long day of dashing around and working hard, you relax and reward yourself before climbing into bed.
Soaking in a hot tub, listening to music or reading a book can do wonders to help relax and unwind your body and mind. A relaxed mind set will also help your body to prepare for restful sleep.
Ideally you should switch off all electronic devices and the television an hour before going to bed. These devices emit bluish lights that can suppress natural melatonin production and disrupt the sleep cycle.
- Take a morning walk
Most people rush out of their homes in a frenzy each morning. However, waking up 15 minutes earlier and going outside for a short walk in the natural morning light will help set your circadian alarm clock to be in synch with waking and sleeping times.
In addition, exposing your skin to the sun will help boost your vitamin D levels, especially during the summer time. Optimum vitamin D levels have been linked to improved mood and reduced infection rates.
Engage in some form of physical activity that will increase your heart rate for at least 30 minutes — swimming, cycling, running or even a brisk walk. But be careful not to exercise too late in the day because it can leave you too energised to unwind easily when it is bedtime.
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Disclaimer: Bear in mind the material contained in this article is provided for information purposes only. We are not addressing anyone’s personal situation. Please consult with your own physician before acting on any recommendations contained herein.
“Aqueous extract of valerian root (Valeriana officinalis L.) improves sleep quality in man,” Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior 1982; 17: 65-71