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The Art of Sleep: Mastering your bedtime routine

We all know the importance of a good night’s sleep. After a solid night’s sleep, not only do we feel well rested and more energised, but sleep can also play a large role in many other aspects of your life. During your night asleep, your brain is working hard to maintain your mental and physical wellbeing. So what can we do to support our mind and body during this vital part of our day? Today we are looking into the importance of a good sleep routine, and what you can do to get a better night’s sleep. 

The Importance Of Sleep

Sleep isn’t just about rest. It’s a chance for our brain to make vital repairs, form memories and maintain your body. Research has shown that consistent high quality uninterrupted sleep is beneficial for us in several ways. A good night’s sleep can help consolidate memories formed over the course of the day alongside improving your cognitive functions and ability to learn new information.

Inversely, sleep deprivation or long spates of sleeping badly can have some serious consequences. Ongoing research into the link between mental health and sleep, suggests that those who regularly suffer from bad sleep or sleep deprivation are increasingly likely to suffer from depression, anxiety and a range of other mental health conditions. Lack of sleep can also lead to increased risk of chronic conditions such as obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

Establishing A Consistent Sleep Cycle

One of the most important elements of a good sleep routine is consistency. Our bodies thrive on routine, and disruptions to this routine can throw our internal body clock otherwise known as your circadian rhythm out of balance.  Your circadian rhythm refers to the 24 cycles of hormones that your body releases during the day. These hormones include Melatonin, the hormone that is responsible for making you feel tired and the right time of day.

Studies have shown that consistent regular sleep is of more value to a person than an irregular sleep schedule. The same study also found that those who did not have a regular sleep cycle were more likely to suffer from conditions such as obesity, hypertension, and elevated blood sugar which can lead to heart disease. This demonstrates that even if you are getting enough sleep, establishing a regular bedtime and time to wake up, will not only make you sleep better but can help avoid a number of health problems associated with sleep deprivation. 

Maintaining a regular sleep cycle doesn’t just involve falling asleep and waking up at the same time. It can be tempting when you’re tired after a long day to take a short nap to freshen you up for the remainder of the day. Napping however is another way to disrupt your circadian cycle, causing disruptions in your melatonin levels. If you are going to nap, experts recommend only napping for between 10 to 20 minutes, and napping early in the afternoon around 3pm rather than a later time.

Creating Your Perfect Sleep Environment

So what practical steps can you take to maximise the quality of your sleep? The first step is to take control of every physical factor you can. Begin by taking a look at your sleeping space. For a good night’s sleep studies have shown we need a dark and quiet space with minimal distractions to prevent us from falling asleep and staying asleep till morning. Investing in blackout curtains can help prevent early morning light from waking you before you are ready. Ear plugs can help if you live in an area of excessive noise, but if you are a light sleeper, ensuring your house is free from noises that might prevent you from staying asleep is also important. Consider turning your phone to silent, and avoiding any notification technology that might disturb you whilst you sleep. 

Decluttering Your Bedroom

Removing distractions from your bedroom can have a big impact on the way you sleep. Keep your bedroom as purely a place to sleep, and not engage in work or activities that keep your mind active. There are some obvious culprits such as mobile phones or computers, but there are also a host of other distracting clutter that we can accumulate in our bedrooms. Removing any paperwork associated with your job or life admin can help fortify your bedroom as a place for sleep, not somewhere to stress over the troubles of your day. Make sure everything in your bedroom: from the art you hang on the walls to your pillow cases are there to promote calm and ease your brain into sleep.

Get Comfy

Ensuring you have a comfortable environment to sleep in, isn’t just about making a dark quiet space. Find bedding that helps you get a proper night’s sleep. Many people experience a poor night’s sleep due to bad posture and a poor sleeping position. Make sure that you are regularly replacing worn out pillows or bedding when you can. Using higher quality sheets can also promote a cooler night’s sleep, perfect for those who struggle to sleep in the summer heat. Investing in your bedding may be expensive, but the ramifications on your sleep may be more than enough to justify the expense. 

What Keeps You Awake?

Our sleep isn’t just disrupted by the occasional passing car or the ring of a mobile phone at night. What we ingest over the course of the day can have a big impact on the quality of our sleep. Some of the culprits are obvious. Caffeine, when consumed too late in the day or in excessive amounts, can seriously disrupt our sleep routine. Caffeine can not only prevent you from falling asleep, but can also prevent your brain from achieving a full deep sleep. Other substances that can cause disruptions in your sleep can include nicotine, alcohol, recreational drugs and even excessive sugar consumption. Seek to cut out or limit the amount of these substances you consume as you get closer to your chosen bedtime, the results will be undeniable.

Conclusion

Mastering a good night’s sleep requires a bit of work and patience. By planning out a routine and being aware of the factors that may disrupt your sleep, you are on the right course to a better night’s sleep, and a happier healthier you. 

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