We all know the importance of a good night sleep for our general well being and happiness. Whether it’s our mind, our metabolism or our physical fitness, a good sleep without disturbance has an essential impact on our health. We spend almost a third of our lives sleeping, a time necessary to recover our physical and psychological needs.
However, getting a good night sleep is not always easy. Most nights I would only have about 4-5 hours sleep which resulted in me feeling drained and tired. The next day would be unproductive and sometimes a complete waste. It’s not surprising as I was only having about half the recommended hours of sleep which is 7-8 hours a night.
Eventually I decided to look at my pre-bedtime routine. Something needed to change before I burnt myself out. Before I talk about the changes that you should make in your routine. Let us understand why a good night sleep is so important.
Why is it so important to have good night sleep?
Having an excellent sleep routine is crucial for good health. Although in our constantly busy societies, a good night’s sleep may be seen as a waste of time, it is not! Sleep is essential for the proper functioning of your body, especially for cell renewal. Indeed, it is thanks to sleep that your body is able to produce new cells to replace dead ones.
Sleep regenerate your body
Our immune system release cytokines when we sleep. These cytokines help our body to fight against inflammation and infection. Without proper sleep, our immune system will not work to its full potential. In other words, it is the fuel the body needs to create the energy and cells necessary for its defence.
In addition, sleep allows the cardiovascular system to rest. Indeed, while we sleep, our heart rate slows down by an average of 15-20% to save energy. This relaxation is an opportunity to “repair” our body, including the regeneration of the cells of the various organs. This relaxation is also observed on the muscles which relax. This muscular inactivity allows us to reconstitute a stock of energy to ensure a good physical condition.
However, our metabolism does not remain inactive while we sleep. It takes advantage of this time of relaxation to produce hormones, particularly growth hormones. These are essential for the development of children. They also help to develop muscles, bones and cartilage in adults.
Sleep well to work well rather than sleeping less to work more. Being efficient at work, in studies or in managing daily life also requires restful nights. Too little sleep leads to inevitable symptoms, from yawning to embarrassing sleepiness, as bad as it is bad for productivity. The more tired you are, the more your ability to concentrate decreases, making learning difficult. On the other hand, a rested brain works at its best: learning, understanding, memorising or developing reasoning all happen naturally.
Good for overall health
In addition, while you sleep, your body functions in slow motion. As your metabolism slows down, your breathing slows down, your heart rate slows down and even your blood pressure (both blood and muscle) decreases. In addition, sleep plays an important role in your brain and memory. Indeed, it is during sleep that the brain sorts, integrates and assimilates the different information stored throughout the day.
You have probably already experienced this: when you are sleep-deprived, you find that you have difficulty remembering simple things and dealing with tasks that are usually easy. Finally, on the risks of sleep deprivation, it also causes irritability, fatigue, weariness and in the long run increases the risk of depression.
10 Things That Prevent A Good Sleep
Below are 10 things I changed to my pre-bedtime routine that help me sleep. I now sleep better, resulting in me waking up earlier and being more productive each day.
I used to lie in bed and watch TV before I went to sleep. There has been plenty of research into the effects of TV and sleep. Not only do the sights and sounds stimulate the brain, but the light from the TV also affects your natural circadian rhythms, which are normally controlled by daylight. Turn off the TV!
Whether its light from your TV or light from outside street lamps, being exposed to man-made light before bedtime can disrupt your circadian rhythm, which makes it difficult for your brain to understand when it should begin to settle down. Make sure you have thick curtains and turn off any electrical appliances such as your TV and computer.
Remember that you spend 1/3 of your life in bed, so you must invest in a quality mattress. A bad mattress can have serious consequences for your physical condition. Problems with support and cushioning can lead to muscle pain. It is not uncommon to wake up with aches and pains and “back problems” when you sleep on poor quality or old bedding – this is one of the signs that it is time for a change. Good comfort is therefore essential for a good night’s sleep, but it depends specifically on the sleeper: your ideal mattress will be more or less soft/firm depending on your body type and needs.
After a gym session I feel wide awake. This is because during exercise and shortly after, our bodies release stress hormones that help increase blood flow, boost our heart rate and raise our body temperature. This is to keep our muscles pumping. I used to go gym late at night thinking it would help me sleep better but in fact it was having the opposite affect. Workout earlier in the day, and you will have a better nights sleep. The best time to go to the gym is in the morning.
If you have a pint of water before you go to bed, be prepared to take a midnight trip to the toilet. To avoid this, keep your fluid intake to a minimum after about 6pm.
Trying to sleep on an empty stomach can be difficult. To avoid this have a medium sized dinner and then a snack before bedtime. I find a protein shake works well.
Establish a sleep routine
If your sleep patterns are very irregular and you alternate between sleepless nights and twelve-hour nights, you may have long-term problems. If you set up a regular sleep schedule and go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, you can start to improve your overall sleep quality.
Stress and anxiety can have a major impact on your sleep. When you’re in this state your mind races causing sleep disturbance. If you’re having trouble with stress then the best way to minimise the effects is to deal with the stress itself. Make sure you wind down and relax a few hours before bedtime.
Using a smartphone, laptop or tablet near bedtime can be problematic for several reasons. If you spend time on social media, your anxiety may increase. The same will happen if you check your work emails at night.
In addition, the light from these electronic devices can have a negative effect on your sleep. Smartphones and similar electronic devices emit blue light that can reduce the production of melatonin in your brain, which in turn reduces the quality of your sleep.
So make sure your phone is turned off before you go to bed. Any late night texts or calls can disturb your sleep, even if your mobile is on vibrate.
Most of you know that caffeine will affect your sleep. To help avoid caffeine related sleep deprivation, try to avoid any caffeine after 12pm and stick to one caffeine related drink a day. This is because the half-life of caffeine is about six hours meaning if you consume a few large cups of coffee during the day, you will still have large quantities of caffeine in your system before you go to bed.