Monday, 17 June 2013
Late Night Nonsense Sleep Series: Post 1 - Tips For A Good Nights Sleep
So, just how important is getting a good nights sleep? Aside from the health benefits, it's also vitally important for your skin! If you've ever experienced puffy eyes and sallow skin it's probably through lack of sleep. Severe lack of it can leave you with those horrible dark circles that are a tell tale sign of sleep deprivation, not to mention fine lines and leaving you a little lacklustre. Cortisol, a chemical released when stressed is ample when you don't get enough sleep, and it's this little blighter that really screws with the collagen in your skin. That's the stuff that keeps you looking young, smooth and stops your jowls from going south! Crazy, right?!
You don't have to worry if you're not getting your 8 hours of sleep a night though. Most of us can't even afford the luxury of 3 or 4, but as long as the ones you are getting satisfy your body enough to wake up feeling refreshed, you're getting enough. Your age plays a big factor in how much you should be getting a night, anywhere from 16 hours for babies and averaging 6 hours for the over 65s. I currently haven't found my 'sweet spot', I'm still experimenting with what works for me. And don't feel bad and beat yourself up if you can't get the same amount each time; as long as you settle back into your routine and stick to it, a little deterring it not going to cause too many problems.
You may have heard 'good sleep hygiene' being kicked about a lot, either by your doctor or even on the internet and television. There's a reason for that, and you'd be surprised at how many people ignore it and chose to do things differently every day. A good sleep hygiene routine can dramatically alter the way you get to sleep, stay asleep, and wake up feeling energised. The only downside is, you have to alter the way you settle down for the evening and even cut out some big hitters in the daytime. Let's have a look at my top 5 ways you can get into a structured routine that'll leave you wondering why you never bothered before!
1. Cut out caffeine - "I'm Adrienne, and I'm a coffee addict." I'm sorry Starbucks fiends, you're going to have to come down from that buzz. When this was one of the first things my doctor told me to cut back on I nearly cried, that's not even a joke. I still have the odd cup from time to time, and I honestly wish I could cut it out entirely, I just need to find that perfect alternative. Same goes for alcohol here people, it's great for knocking you out almost instantly but as soon as the levels drop in your blood you're looking at a fully fledged stimulant.
2. No electronic gadgets or TV at least an hour before bed - It's a no-brainer, these kind of activities force our brains to get over stimulated, resulting in plenty of tossing, turning and general grumpiness. My advice? Read a book, meditate, you could even go for a walk if you felt that way inclined. Just do something that doesn't involve a little flickering screen for as long as possible before you start to feel tired. You'd be surprised how quickly it works too. That hour reading would have turned into several hours worth of late night television hopping, so you can thank yourself tomorrow.
3. If you can't get to sleep, get up! I can not believe the amount of people that stay in bed when they're having trouble drifting off. You need to go into another room and read or have a snack (anything high in amino acid tryptophan is a bonus) until you feel sleepy. The problem here is you're trying too hard to sleep, and with this comes frustration which forces your brain back into overtime. Relaxation is the key here. If you're not sleeping because you're worried or anxious, write down anything that's bothering you, don't take them to bed. The same goes for waking up during the night, if within 15 minutes you're still not snoring away, get out of bed.
4. Use your bed for sleep and the naughty stuff only - I might be preaching to the converted, but do you realise how much time you spend in/on the bed when you're not actually asleep? Once you associate your bed with sleep, it almost tricks your body into starting the motions for the evening.
5. Keep to a schedule - Just like babies, we need a good routine. As much as it seems awful to put yourself to bed each night at a reasonable time and then having to get up at the crack of dawn, as long as it's consistent then you'll feel as amazing as if you'd slept for 10+ hours. You don't have to go to bed early, as long as it's the same time each night and the same time to rise each morning. That means weekends too, otherwise you aren't doing your body any favours by having that Sunday lie in!
There are, of course, the obvious things to watch out for after you've sorted the above. You need to make sure you're at a comfortable temperature (not too hot or too cold), that the room you're sleeping in is relatively quiet and block as much light out as you can with some heavy duty curtains.
So there you have it, some good tips to stick to for a better nights sleep. But don't worry if you go off the rails, just pick back up where you left off. Sometimes good intentions aren't enough, and you might be out at a party or working through the night with a boatload of coffee (trust me, this happens on a regular basis), so don't fret too hard.
What is your top tip for getting the sleep you deserve?