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One of the key elements to a healthy lifestyle is getting a good night’s sleep on a regular basis. Not only does it keep you feeling refreshed and ready to take on the next day, but it also helps with many other parts of your physical wellbeing from hormone regulation, brain function, and even weight loss and a reduced risk of serious diseases.
When it comes to food, being tired can cause you to crave more calories and therefore eat more to get your energy levels up, but this also increases your weight. Here we’ve put together some of our top tips for getting a better night’s sleep so you can improve your quality of life.
Regulate Your Light Exposure
Our brains produce a chemical called melatonin, which basically signals to our bodies that it’s time to get some sleep. This production of melatonin occurs when our brain detects extended periods of darkness, signaling that it’s probably nighttime.
If you’re going to sleep in a brightly lit room, it’s likely that you’ll struggle to fall asleep as melatonin will not be produced as easily. On the flip side of this, natural light produces serotonin, often labeled as the happiness hormone, which helps to wake you up. This explains why, in the dark wintertime, it’s more difficult to get out of bed than in the summertime. Try to ensure you’re getting the right amount of light and darkness during times of waking and sleeping respectively, as this will help you to maintain a healthy rhythm.
Avoid Caffeine In The Evening
Caffeine, as you’ll probably know, has a stimulating effect on the body, raising your heart rate and blood pressure, increasing your energy levels in turn. While this can be beneficial to your routine, especially on those dreary, slow mornings, having caffeine during times where you’re trying to relax is not necessarily a good idea, especially if you’re planning to get to sleep soon.
It’s recommended to avoid caffeine in the late afternoon and evening, as you should really be looking to wind down and relax, preparing your body for sleep. If you try to sleep under the effects of caffeine, you may be able to, but it could also disrupt your sleep or make it slightly more difficult to drift off, leaving you feeling groggy in the morning.
Try Sleep Vitamins And Supplements
If you really struggle to get to sleep or maintain a complete sleep cycle, you may be suffering from something like a hormone imbalance. While your body should be able to rebalance this itself, it can take time, and sometimes, it can be worth giving yourself a bit of a boost. There are many sleep vitamins and supplements available such as melatonin supplements and even certain probiotics that can help aid in more comfortable and quality sleep. Probiotics can help to maintain a healthy gut to prevent it from disturbing your sleep with digestion issues, whereas melatonin supplements will help to let your body know when it’s time to get some shut-eye.
Develop A Regular Sleep Pattern
As we get older and become independent, we move away from the set bedtimes made by our parents and at the time, this feels liberating and exhilarating. However, as we get even older, we may begin to realize that there was actually a reason that we had to be in bed by a specific time, and it’s not just because our parents wanted to finally relax for the evening.
Having a regular sleeping pattern is wholly beneficial to our health, both physically and mentally, because it keeps our circadian rhythm, the body’s natural clock, in order. This circadian rhythm also helps to dictate the release of hormones like melatonin, and will naturally get into the habit of releasing that hormone at the same time every day, causing you to feel tired at your set bedtime — it’s not just a coincidence that you end up feeling sleepy at the same time every day.
Avoid Long Naps When Possible
The reason that we’ve said avoid long naps and not just naps in general is because a quick power nap can actually be very good for your health, especially if you have a busy lifestyle. The benefits of these quick naps range from improvements to memory and cognitive function to a reduction in the risk of heart disease and stroke caused by stress.
When it comes to longer naps, however, you end up forcing your body into a deeper sleep, and further into complex sleep stages. These deeper stages of the sleep cycle are meant to last a significant amount of time, and this is where the body’s healing and regrowth processes will take place. This generally begins after about 30 minutes or so of sleep and after that, you’re entering into a proper sleep state as opposed to a nap. Awakening from your nap during this time is more akin to waking up after an hour or two in bed, ready to start the next day before completing the recommended full sleep of 7-9 hours. This can leave you feeling exhausted rather than rejuvenated due to disrupting the body’s natural processes.