You can tell when you haven’t slept well the night before; it can be hard to concentrate, your energy levels are low, and you can feel grouchy and irritable, or even tearful sometimes. However, regular lack of sleep is more serious than simply being an annoyance – insomnia can trigger a number of health problems, from mental health issues to weight gain.
A number of factors can disturb our sleeping pattern: stress, work shifts, eating too late at night, a new baby, children, an uncomfortable bed… While we may make exercise or diet a priority in our lives, many of us tend to put up with these sleeping relating problems. Yet doing so can be incredibly detrimental to our health, and to that of our family. Did you know, for example, that studies have shown that people buy less healthy food after a poor night’s sleep? These kinds of impaired choices can have far reaching effects.
So here are three sure-fire ways of improving your sleep, and your health!
1. Avoid Eating Meals Before Bedtime
It is recommended to eat your last main meal of the day at least three to four hours before you plan to go to sleep. This is so that your digestive system isn’t still working hard when you fall asleep, thus making it difficult to sleep smoothly through the night. However, hunger before bed can also disrupt sleep, so try eating a small snack, such as a banana and a glass of milk, if your tummy feels too empty.
2. Say Goodnight to Emails and Your Phone
Using phones and checking emails can make it impossible to wind down before bed. It’s no good keeping busy until you hit the sack, as this will send you straight into a deep sleep state when you finally collapse into bed. This may sound like a good thing, but optimal sleep requires gradual steps, which leads us to our final point…
3. Prepare for Sleep
Around an hour to an hour and a half before you want to go to sleep, start to prepare your body for rest. It is said that candlelight can help to trigger the production of the sleep hormone, melatonin. If you don’t have candles, try dimming the lights, or use lamps with soft colored shades in the bedroom. Try to de-stress from the day by meditating, or pampering yourself. Light stretches are great for releasing built up tension, and will help ease your body into a sound and restful sleep.