We all know what happens when we do not get enough sleep, we get cranky and forgetful and simply do not function well. After one night without sleep, concentration becomes more difficult and our attention span shortens noticeably .With continued lack of sleep, the part of our brain that controls language, memory, planning and sense of time is so badly affected, it almost shuts down, sustained lack of sleep has the same effect as drinking two glasses of wine. When we go without sleep we cannot respond to change effectively and our ability to make judgement about dangerous situations is almost lost. It only takes three days without sleep before we start to hallucinate and eventually it is fatal not to sleep.
On top of this are the physical effects of not having sleep, stress and high blood pressure, links to obesity and appetite disturbances to mention a few. So it’s key to have a good night’s sleep to be able to function at all.
How much sleep we need depends on our age and lifestyle and we need to know where we lie on the sleep spectrum and what our lifestyle is doing to us. (Work, stress etc) Are we productive, healthy and happy on six hours of sleep? Or do we need nine hours to get going every day? Is our weight affecting the amount of sleep we need or do we have conditions and diseases that make us sleep more or less? Does caffeine help us stay awake and are we at risk of falling asleep when we drive? All of these will affect the amount of sleep we need but most adults require 7-9 hours per night of quality sleep.
If we have sleep difficulties the answers can often be found in our daily routine. Our sleep schedule, bedtime habits, and day-to-day lifestyle all affect the quality of our sleep. These tips can help improve our sleep and therefore how we perform at all things in our lives.
Set a regular bedtime. Go to bed at the same time every night. Choose a time when you normally tired, do not to break this routine on weekends when it’s tempting to go to bed later because you can have a lie in.
Wake up at the same time every day. If you’re getting enough sleep, you will wake up naturally without an alarm. If you need an alarm clock you may need to go to bed earlier. No matter how tempting it is get up at the same time on the weekend too.
Let the light in to your bedroom in the morning this allows your circadian rhythms to wake you up naturally. Get as much daylight into your life and work as possible it allows you to feel awake and know when it’s time to sleep. On the other hand keep your bedroom dark at nigh minimising displays from alarms etc.
Keep the TV, Phone and PC out of the bedroom, they will over stimulate you and make it difficult to drop off at night. Have dimmer bulbs in your bedroom and if you need the loo in the night try using a torch to go so you can doze off quicker when you get back in bed.
Try to keep your bedroom as quiet as possible and use white noise if this is impossible.
Ensure your bed is comfy, check out your pillows and mattress is it time to change them as when they age you simply do not get the support you need for a good night’s sleep.
Avoid food and alcohol before going to bed for at least two hours, cut down on liquids, caffeine and nicotine as they all affect our ability to sleep.
Watch what you are thinking about as you try to sleep, it’s not a good time to start being creative, analytic or concerned.
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