Sleep is vital for our body to function, rebuild and restore itself. Getting enough rest can also make an impact on your energy levels, hunger and appetite. When we’re tired, we are more likely to reach for sugary sweets, carbs and coffee in order to give ourselves an instant pick-me-up. When sleep is lacking, it also encourages the body to hold onto fat. Although some situations are out of your own hands (like young children waking up in the middle of the night), there are plenty of other tips to take on board to improve the chances of a good night’s’ sleep:
- Exercise. With so many health benefits, exercise also increases our body temperature which leads to the feeling of sleepiness hours later. It can also reduce anxiety and depressive symptoms, which may make it easier to relax and fall asleep. Research is also finding that exercise may help those who suffer from insomnia.
- The outdoors. We all get so busy with work, children, and daily errands that it becomes difficult to find time to relax or get outside. Sunlight affects our circadian rhythm and can help our bodies to recognise day from night. It’s helpful to open blinds or curtains as soon as you’re awake to let natural sunlight in, and start to turn down lights and stimuli as it gets later.
- Disconnect from devices. Turn off electronics before bed and try to keep them away from your bedroom. Electronics and any screens can negatively impact melatonin levels, making it more difficult to get to sleep and stay asleep.
- Routine. This is the same with kiddos: if you follow the same steps each night, your body will recognise that it’s time for sleep. Try a short meditation session before bed and drinking something hot, like tea or almond milk hot cocoa.
- Early bedtime. This can be a difficult one, especially if you use the evening to get things done after kids go to bed or you need the time to yourself. Set an alarm at night to ensure you hit the hay at a reasonable time each night.