There is a direct link between getting enough sleep and your physical and mental health. When we don’t get our eight hours of sleep on a regular basis, we not only feel cranky and irritable, we can also negatively affect our health in a variety of ways, from weight control to fertility. Yet although we have a greater understanding of the importance of sleep than previous generations, too many of us fail to take the steps to improve our quality and duration of sleep.
Keep in tune with your body’s cycle
Your body has a natural sleep-wake cycle and one of the best ways to enjoy better sleep is to get into sync with it. In fact, there is evidence to show that keeping a consistent sleep-wake schedule leaves you feeling more refreshed and alert than sleeping the same number of hours at different times. To get in tune with your natural cycle, try to sleep at the same times every day. Go to bed at a point when you normally feel tired, and avoid lying in, particularly at weekends. If you are forced to have a late night, the best way to catch up with sleep is with a daytime nap, rather than disturbing your night time pattern. Getting in tune with your cycle will quickly improve your quality of sleep.
Reduce light exposure
Melatonin is a hormone that occurs naturally and helps to regulate your sleep-wake cycle. Crucially, it is controlled by light. Your body produces more melatonin when its dark, making you feel sleepy. Unfortunately, there are many influences in modern life that disrupt the natural regulation of melatonin. One useful tip is to spend as much time as possible outdoors, exposed to bright sunlight, during the day. Try to take your coffee outside, or work near a window. By contrast, when it gets dark and closer to bedtime, reduce your exposure to light through mobile devices and televisions.
Replace your mattress
Our deeper understanding of how sleep works, and the importance of a good night’s sleep have led to considerable developments in the field of sleep science. Modern beds and mattresses are increasingly being designed with this knowledge in mind and if you are struggling to get comfortable during the night, it’s worth looking at new mattresses. If you’re worried about how effective a mattress might be, most modern products come with a mattress warranty and a reputable retailer or manufacturer will let you check out the warranty information before you make a purchase.
Get more exercise
You won’t be surprised to learn that getting more exercise can help you get a better night’s sleep, but the evidence is indisputable. In fact, the more vigorously you exercise, the more benefit you will get from sleep, although even light exercise, such as perhaps going for a 10-minute walk can help.
There are many factors that can prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep and in some cases, lack of sleep can be down to underlying medical conditions, including psychological factors, in which case professional medical help may be required to resolve the issue. But many of us can do more ourselves to improve our quality of sleep and in turn our quality of life.