Just like brushing your teeth every morning, following a daily routine allows you to foster good health habits. When you’re out of your normal routine, on holidays for example, it can be easy for sleep patterns to get disrupted, too.
Going without sleep for too long makes you feel terrible, while getting a good night’s sleep can make you feel ready to take on the world. So how can you sleep better? One way to do this is by tuning into your body’s internal clock and developing the habit of getting up and going to bed around the same time each day. Maintaining this pattern will make it easier to fall asleep and get up in the morning.
The consequences of inadequate sleep can be serious. In the short term, it can affect judgment, mood, mental health, immunity, metabolism and the ability to learn and retain information. Plus, it may increase the risk of serious accidents and injury. In the long term, chronic sleep deprivation may increase the risk of health conditions like obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. It may even reduce life expectancy.
Your challenge: Build and maintain a good sleep routine
For this challenge, try to commit to a consistent daily bedtime and wake-up time so you can get yourself into a good routine. Where possible, allow half an hour or an hour free from screens before you go to bed. Electronic screens emit blue light that can suppress the sleep hormone melatonin.
If you work shifts and can’t stick to a regular routine, aim to get at least seven hours of consecutive sleep in a dark, cool room. Using an eye mask and ear plugs may minimise disturbances while you sleep.
How to make it happen!
Try these tips to help build and maintain a good sleep routine:
- Keep your room cool and dark when trying to sleep
- Unwind before bed with a good book, bath or some meditation
- Avoid using electronic devices 15 to 30 minutes before going to sleep. Even better, remove mobiles and electronic devices from your bedroom
- Use an eye mask and earplugs
- Try mediation apps such as CALM or Headspace
- If you find it hard to shut your brain off, keep a notepad on your side table and write down any ideas, thoughts, worries and ‘to-dos’ that are running through you mind. Feel confident you’ll manage them after a good night’s sleep
- Avoid caffeine in the afternoon and limit your combined consumption of tea and coffee to a couple of cups of day.
- Limit or eliminate alcohol
- Exercise regularly
- Spend at least 20 minutes outside every day
- If you work shifts, talk to the people you live with about how they can help you get uninterrupted sleep.