Getting a Good Night’s Sleep

Sleep: We all do it, but many of us don’t do it well. A good night’s sleep is just as important as regular exercise and a healthy diet. It is essential and vital for maintaining good mental and physical health.  Unfortunately, many of us struggle to fall asleep, have bad dreams, can’t wake up in the morning and then feel constantly tired! Sleep is your body’s time to recover from the day’s activities, recharge and get ready.

Sleep and health are strongly related- poor sleep can increase the risk of having poor health, and poor health can make it harder to sleep. Whilst sleeping, important physical and mental processes are carried out.

Everyone’s experienced the fatigue, short temper and lack of focus that often follow a poor night’s sleep. Insufficient sleep has consequences for how we function in the daytime, causing sleepiness and fatigue. Lack of sleep can lead to headaches, anxiety and depression.

Here are some tips on how to get a good night’s sleep:

  • Stick to a regular sleep schedule

To improve your sleep and make sure you are getting the right amount, it’s best to develop a consistent wake up time, even on weekends.

  • Avoid napping throughout the day

If you have trouble sleeping, avoid naps, especially in the afternoon. Power napping may hep you get through the day, but then you will struggle to fall asleep at night.

  • Don’t drink caffeine before bed

Caffeine acts as a central nervous system stimulant. When it reaches your brain, the most noticeable effect is alertness. You’ll feel more awake and less tired as it enhances focus and performance, therefore it’s best to avoid this before bed.

  • Exercise regularly

Exercise enhances sleep by burning off tension that accumulates during the day and improves the quality of sleep, especially when done on a regular basis.

  • Tech-free bedtime

Our phones, tablets, computers and other electronic gadgets  have become such a huge part of our daily lives that it’s often hard to put them down- even at bedtime. The bedroom should be somewhere that we associate with sleep. Where possible, you should try to remove distractions from your bedroom as it will help you to relax.

  • Light, Sound and Temperature

Too much light and background noise can prevent you from falling or staying asleep. For light and noise sources that you can’t control, eye masks or ear plugs are wonderful investments. If your room is cool rather than warm, it will be much easier to shut your eyes for the night.

Benefits of a good night’s sleep:

  • Sleep Makes You More Alert

A good night’s sleep makes you feel alert and energised the next day. Being engaged and active not only feels great but increases your chances for another good night’s sleep. When you wake up feeling refreshed, use that energy to get out into the daylight, do active things, and be engaged with your world. You’ll sleep better the next night and increase your daily energy level.

  • Improves memory

During sleep, your brain forms connections that help you process and remember new information. A lack of sleep can negatively impact both short- and long-term memory.

  • Reduces the risk of depression

Sleep impacts many of the chemicals in your body, including serotonin. People with serotonin deficiencies are more likely to suffer from depression. Getting the right amount of sleep helps reduce depression.

  • Helps reduce stress

If your body doesn’t get enough sleep, it can react by producing a high level of stress hormones. Deep and regular sleep can help prevent this.

While sleep requirements vary slightly from person to person, most healthy adults need between 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night to function at their best. Children and teens need even more. And despite the notion that our sleep needs decrease with age, most older people still need at least 7 hours of sleep. Since older adults often have trouble sleeping this long at night, daytime naps can help fill in the gap.

  Age   Hours Needed
  13 years old   9-11 hrs
  14-17 years old   8-10 hrs
  18-26 years old   7-9 hrs

The best way to figure out if you’re meeting your sleep needs is to evaluate how you feel as you go about your day.