A good night's sleep is essential to good health because it calms the breathing and reduces both the blood pressure and the heart rate, which helps the body to regenerate during the night. Even though disturbed sleep does not constitute a problem for the body in the short term, chronic sleep deprivation has a negative impact not only on our health but also on our productivity and mood. Below you will find some tips on how to improve your sleep.
Watch what you eat – and when
Be sure not to go to bed on a full stomach. It is going to be difficult to get to sleep if your digestive system is trying to cope with a heavy meal. Ideally you should leave around three hours between your last meal and going to bed. However, if you eat within this three-hour period, keep to small portions of easily digestible foods.
It's all about rhythm
Many people catch up on lost sleep at the weekend, but this is not necessarily a good habit to get into. It's better to establish a constant sleep rhythm and stick to it throughout the week. The body gets used to this rhythm and sets our internal alarm clock to wake us up at the right time. This means that we find it easier to fall asleep at night and feel refreshed in the morning.
Exercise is good
Taking regular exercise can help us to sleep better. You don't have to be an Olympic athlete! A little exercise, taken regularly, is quite enough. However, you shouldn't exercise late in the evening because this will boost your circulation and prevent you from dropping off to sleep. It's best if you finish exercising at least three hours before you go to bed.
You don't have to worry if you can't get enough sleep for two or three nights in a row. Stay calm and put unhelpful thoughts out of your mind (e.g. "I really have to be on the ball tomorrow" or "I've got to get to sleep right away, otherwise I'll feel groggy in the morning"). Thinking like this will only make you anxious and stop you sleeping. Instead, focus on something relaxing and breathe deeply and slowly. You may find meditation, progressive muscle relaxation or autogenic training helpful.