In between long commutes, work emails to catch up on and family gatherings, life can get busy. With everything going on, it can sometimes feel near impossible to get a good night’s sleep.
If you’ve ever missed out on your valuable seven hours, you already know how you’ll feel the next day. The tiredness, crankiness, and lack of focus kicks in almost immediately. Often overlooked, consistent high-quality sleep is crucial for good health.
We know that we need to get into bed, relax and drift off to the land of nod before waking up ready to take on the day. But, sometimes that’s easier said than done. In this post, we show you why you need to be clocking those deep sleep hours and scientifically-proven ways to sleep better at night.
Why Is Sleep So Important For Your Health?
We all know that sleep is important but, why? A good night’s sleep is as essential as healthy eating and regular exercise. Unfortunately, people are sleeping less than they used to and the quality of sleep has also decreased. According to Statistics Canada, one in three Canadians aren’t hitting their recommended seven to nine hours of sleep per night.
You’ve probably experienced a sleepless night at one point or another. Poor sleep affects so much more than you might think. Yes, it can be hard to concentrate and simple tasks can feel extremely difficult but, it goes further than that.
Poor sleep is strongly linked to weight gain and eating more calories. Short sleep duration is actually one of the biggest risk factors for obesity. An extensive review looked at both children and adults with short sleep duration. Researchers found that children and adults were 89% and 55% more likely to become overweight, respectively.
A good night’s sleep boosts your concentration, productivity and immune function. Even a small loss of sleep has been shown to impair the immune system. One large two-week study found that those who slept less than seven hours a night were three times as likely to develop a cold.
Interrupted and poor sleep can also play a role in the following:
- Increase the risk of diabetes, heart disease and stroke
- Impact athletic performance
- Increase inflammation
- Affect social interactions and emotions
Why Are You Not Sleeping Well?
There could be a ton of reasons why you’re not sleeping well. You may already even know the culprits, 5 PM coffee-lovers I’m looking at you. If you think you may suffer from a sleep condition, rule that out first. Then start addressing other factors that you have control over.
We all know a bedtime cup of coffee is a bad idea. Caffeine has a half-life of five hours. This means that after this time only half the caffeine has been eliminated from your body. So, half of the caffeine is still lingering in your body when you’re trying to dose off into a deep sleep. Try to keep your consumption below 400 mg per day and avoid caffeine after lunchtime.
Whether it’s the television, your phone or laptop, too much screen time before bed can impact your sleep quality. The blue light that’s emitted by screens suppresses the production of the hormone, melatonin. This is the hormone that helps to regulate your sleep/wake cycle or circadian rhythm.
It’s not just your phone and a cup of coffee that’s to blame, here are eight reasons why you might be struggling to sleep:
- Stress and worry
- Poor diet
- Lack of regular exercise
- Heavy meal before bed
- Wrong room temperature
- Nighttime exercise
- Alcohol before bed
5 Proven Tips to Sleep Better at Night
Insomnia is the most prevalent sleep condition in Canada. It’s estimated to affect up to 48% of the population. People with insomnia tend to find it difficult to fall asleep, wake up frequently and feel tired in the morning. You already like to eat healthily and workout regularly, your sleep is just as important. Here are five natural sleep aids to get a better night’s rest.
1. Ditch the Alcohol
Having a few drinks can negatively impact your sleep. Alcohol can increase or cause symptoms of sleep apnoea, snoring, and sleep disruption. It also interferes with your nighttime production of melatonin which is essential for your body’s circadian rhythm.
2. Create a Bedtime Routine
Create a sleep schedule and bedtime routine that gives you the best chance of getting a good night’s sleep. Many people find a relaxing pre-bedtime routine essential in nodding off. Switch off screen 30 minutes before bed, have a hot bath, read a book, meditate or do anything that helps you to relax. Studies show that a hot bath 90 minutes before bed can improve sleep quality and help you to get into a deeper sleep.
Try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day. When you wake up in the morning, start your day off right with a big glass of lemon water to hydrate and flush out toxins.
3. Turn Off The Screens
You need to make sleep a priority so your body and mind can perform at optimum levels, not just now but in the future as well. Avoid bright screen one to two hours before bed. You can minimize the impact of using devices by turning the brightness down or installing light-altering software like f.lux.
4. Set a Bedroom Temperature
Your bedroom temperature can play a part in setting you up for a night of deep sleep. Studies show that increased body temperature can disrupt sleep and decrease sleep quality. The suggested bedroom temperature is between 60 and 67°F.
5. Increase Your Bright Light Exposure During The Day
Your body is programmed to keep track of time, this is your circadian rhythm. Natural sunlight or bright light at the right times helps to keep your circadian rhythm healthy. One study found that two hours of bright light exposure during the day improves sleep time by two hours and sleep efficiency by 80%.
Stress, worry, caffeine intake and screen time can all contribute to poor sleep quality. Take the time to create a sleep schedule and bedtime routine that encourages relaxation and deep sleep. By focusing on your sleep, you can remove those obstacles holding you back, sleep better at night and feel fully rested every morning.