This time of year, many people are setting new year goals for themselves, such as getting in shape and eating better. But did you know that spending time on rest and recovery is as critical to your health as diet and exercise?
Sleep is essential to our overall health, helping to restore our minds and bodies and keep them in peak performance. Specific benefits include cell and tissue repair, rest for your heart, as well as immune system strengthening.1
While you might be making gains in the gym, a lack of sleep can hinder your athletic performance by:2
Signs that you may not be getting enough sleep include.3
Having these symptoms above may suggest you’ve had a restless night. But if they happen regularly, they could point to a sleep disorder known as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). People with OSA experience disrupted breathing while they sleep.
If you have concerns about your sleep, it might be time to consult a doctor. In the meantime, help give yourself a ‘wakeover’ with these tips. Below is our A to ZZZ guide on how to sleep better.
Putting away our devices and cutting our time in front of screens may help us get to sleep faster and stay asleep. Research tells us that bright screens before bed can impact the hormone melatonin that makes you sleepy.
Having the same bedtime every night helps your body maintain its circadian rhythm.
Chamomile has been used as a medicinal herb since Ancient Egyptian times. Many people now like to enjoy it in their tea. Chamomile is generally regarded as having sedative effects.4
This will tell your body it’s time to sleep by releasing the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin5. If blinds or curtains to block the light won’t work for you, try an eye mask.
A lack of nutrients, including calcium, magnesium, and vitamins A, C, D, E, and K, is linked to shorter sleep6. Try to incorporate fruit and vegetables and other healthy foods that are good for your overall health and well-being.
Aim for a room temperature between 16-20 degrees Celsius, which is optimal for sleep7.
As soon as you wake, expose yourself to sunlight by opening the blinds or going outside. Exposure to sunlight will help keep your body clock in tune.8
Drink plenty of water during the day. Being dehydrated can cause you to experience headaches and muscle cramps. This can create discomfort and may prevent you from getting good sleep.9
A warm and relaxing shower or bath can help calm your body and mind to help ease you into sleep.
Music can help boost good feelings and reduce stress hormones. Soothing songs set at around 60 to 80 beats per minute (BPM) can help you gently fall into a deep sleep. 10
If there are work worries or other stresses on your mind, there's no better way to forget them than to switch your focus to something else.
While alcohol may help you fall asleep faster, it can also cause sleep disruptions.11 You should avoid alcohol at least four hours before bed.12
The ideal nap length is around 10 to 20 minutes. This is because it is long enough to help you feel refreshed, but not too long that you will feel drowsy13.
Caffeine keeps us alert by blocking sleep-inducing chemicals in the brain14. It is also believed to affect our circadian rhythm or body clock, making it harder to fall asleep15.
Reading is a great activity to help you wind down and relax before bed.
Nuts, for instance, can be great to snack on as many varieties contain the sleep-regulating hormone melatonin.16
Stress is a major factor keeping us awake at night. But sometimes, all you need to de-stress is to find a better work-life balance by regularly taking a break to unwind and unclutter your brain.
Frequent night-time urination can affect your sleep. Limit your liquid intake at night and go to the toilet before bed to avoid waking up to use the toilet.
Exercise can help reduce daytime sleepiness and the time it takes to fall asleep.17 But it's also vital for everyday health.
Enjoy better quality sleep with these tips to help you practise better sleep hygiene and drop habits that will hinder your sleep.
Want to learn more about your sleep? Take our free sleep assessment today to start your journey to better rest.
ResMed is a global leader in sleep technology that has its origins right here in Australia. Our goal is to provide people with the means to awaken their best and enjoy healthier lives by promoting good sleep habits and creating awareness for sleep disorders such as sleep apnea.
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