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(Average reading time: 2 minutes)
Here are some pretty common mistakes people make when it comes to sleep hygiene. But first, let us explain why we sleep and why good quality sleep is so important.
Sleep regulates vital functions in the body such as memory, learning, brain development, appetite, hormones, immune function and ageing. It also plays a huge part in our mood and wellbeing. During sleep body repairs and detoxifies itself.
Here are some side effects of sleep deprivation:
• Increased risk of chronic disease
• Increased risk of catching a cold/flu
• Increased risk of infertility on both men and women
What are the mistakes you might make before sleep time?
1. You drink too much coffee or caffeinated beverages. It can take up to 8 hours for caffeine to eliminate from the body so aim to have your last cup of coffee before 4pm. Caffeine affects falling asleep or waking up at night.
2. Blue light. Blue light is most found in sunlight, but there’s also man made blue light in our electronic devices and LED lamps. Blue light suppresses melatonin production. Melatonin, as we know, is a hormone needed for sleep. So we recommend to use blue light filter glasses in the evening or not to use electronic devices a few hours before going to bed.
3. Foods to avoid before bed. Ice cream or any other high sugar foods, cheese, chocolate, fatty foods. High sugar intake spikes your insulin levels and high insulin levels have been shown to make it difficult to fall asleep. Aged cheeses contain tyramine, an amino acid that increases the production of norepinephrine-which can lead to increased alertness and decreased sleep quality. Like coffee, chocolate also contains caffeine. Here are 5 best foods to have before bed: bananas, kiwi, cherries, kale, nuts and seeds.
4. Your bedroom temperature is too high. To fall asleep your body is decreasing its temperature. So keeping your bedroom temperature not more than 19 degrees is helping it to get sleepy faster.
5. Take time to unwind. There is no switch that gets triggered as soon as you jump into bed. Sleep is defined by the body’s key functions – brain wave activity, heart rate, breathing, body temperature and more. Create an environment that cues your body to sleep. It might be reading, listening to calming music, or some yoga stretches. It can be just 2 minutes before going to bed, sit in the dark, do nothing, and quiet your mind.
What else can you do for better sleep?
Bath before bed
Start to unwind with a bath before bed. It needs to be 1.5 hours beforehand though otherwise you’ll be too warm in bed.
Make a note of anything troubling you before going to bed to get it off your chest and have a better night’s sleep.
Buy an alarm clock
Smartphones give off blue light which disturbs sleep. Use an alarm clock and don’t bring your phone to the bedroom.
There is no escape from prioritising sleep routine. Being well-rested will give your opportunity to work more efficiently compared to when you are exhausted by a long list of daily activities day after day.
Make changes to your daily sleep routine over time and try not to bring in all the changes at once. Let your body and mind become accustomed to the changes for life. There is no definite sleep routine that suits everyone. It is about testing what works for you and what does not. Once found, embrace the routine to wake up well-rested.