A challenge for you: Build and maintain a good sleep routine
Just like brushing your teeth every morning, following a routine allows you to foster good health habits. While we’ve been in isolation many of us may have realised how easy it can be to fall into unhelpful habits such as drinking more, exercising less and not eating as well.
Now that we are out of our normal routines, it can be easy for our sleep routine to be disrupted, too. We all know that going without sleep for too long makes us feel terrible, and getting a good night’s sleep can make us feel ready to take on the world – so how can we sleep better? One way is to tune into your body’s internal body clock and get into the habit of getting up and going to bed at similar times each day. Maintaining this pattern will help 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 to a host of health conditions, including obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and may even reduce life expectancy.
For this challenge, where possible, commit to a consistent bedtime and wake-up time each day and get yourself into a routine. Try, where possible, to allow half an hour or an hour of screen-free time before bed. Screens emit blue light which may suppress the sleep hormone, melatonin.
If you work shifts and can’t stick to a strict routine, aim to get at least seven hours of sleep in a row in a dark, cool room. Using an eye-mask and ear plugs may minimise disturbances during your sleep.
Make it happen
Here are a few 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, a bath, some meditation, etc.
- Avoid going on devices from 15-30 min before trying to sleep. Even better, remove mobiles and devices from the 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, have a note pad nearby and write down ideas, thoughts, worries and ‘to-dos’ in a notebook to work on later. Feel confident that you’ll manage them after a good night’s sleep
- Avoid caffeine in the afternoon and limit your daily consumption to a couple of cups of tea/coffee
- Limit or eliminate alcohol
- Exercise regularly
- Spend at least 20 min outside every day
- Learn how diet can influence the quality of our sleep
- If you work shifts, talk to people you live with about how they can help you
Article sources and references
- Harvard Medical Schoolhttp://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/matters/consequences