Sleep is important for our general well-being. It helps reduce musculo-skeletal pain, improves our mental health and allows the nervous system to recover from a busy day. So learning ways to improve sleep if you struggle in this area would obviously be beneficial.
Being a Night Owl
Being a night owl, on the face of it, may seem a fairly normal pattern for some. Unless you have young children of course! It could be driven by work shifts or social commitments. However being a night owl has been linked with certain health issues. Mood disturbances, poorer performance and increased mortality rates
The good news is there is evidence to suggest that late sleep and wake cycles can be changed. Furthermore there are a number of health benefits including reduced reported depression and stress, improved cognitive function and physical strength. Once these changes have been made.
So what if you’re just a poor sleeper?
Well the sleep medicine team associated with Harvard Medical School have come up with a number helpful tips and suggestions. These are really points of advice to try improve sleep consistency. With some of the key points being as follows:
- Avoid Caffeine, Alcohol and Nicotine before sleep. Interestingly alcohol which can send us off to sleep more easily, actually acts a stimulant after couple of hours later.
- Establish a soothing pre-sleep routine. Carry out relaxing activities during the hour before bed. To help calm the body in preparation for sleep.
- Try not to watch the clock during the night. Clock watching can cause stress.
- Try to keep a consistent sleep schedule. Waking and sleeping the same time each day (even at weekends) helps to set the clock.
- Use natural light to help set your sleep cycle
- Lighten up on evening meals
- Exercise early if possible
So there is lots that can be done to improve well-being through sleep. Don’t be disheartened if at first you don’t succeed. It may take a few weeks (even months) to settle into a new rhythm. The health benefits may not initially be obvious, but will become self evident with time.