In honour of Mental Health Day I’m going to give you some essential but top tips for better sleep which will also improve your current and support your future mental health. These are all scientifically evidence based…
And they all revolve around SLEEP….
Top 5 Tips for Better Sleep
Do you find it hard to fall asleep? Having thoughts going round and round in your head…trying to solve problems?
Do you wake up in the middle of the night or the early hours…say, 4am? And then can’t drop off back to sleep?
Are you simply not tired enough at bedtime to contemplate even going to bed?
Sleep is too often pushed to the end of the ‘to do’ list but having enough sleep is ESSENTIAL for numerous biological functions which, in the long term, enable us to keep working through our ‘to do’ lists!
So here are my top 5 tips for better sleep and by doing so, you’ll increase your ability to focus, concentrate and achieve the things you want to do…as well as protecting yourself from the risk of contracting future mental health disease such as Alzheimer’s
- Switch off all electronic devices an hour before bed….yes that means getting off your smart phone, tablet and not watching Netflix on your computer or
Basically the biology behind this is that these gadgets emit blue light which mimic daylight, your brain gets confused and thinks its daytime not time to be going to sleep. This causes the brain to stop producing melatonin, a hormone that increases in the evening to tell your body that it’s “time to sleep”.
Not only that but using your gadget can also stimulate your mind, keeping you awake, especially if scrolling through social media, or email, reading news, or browsing the web.
So, these electrical gadgets can disrupt your sleep cycle, make it harder to fall and even stay asleep and potentially can cause serious health problems along the way.
Chronic lack of sleep is linked to developing Dementia later in life. One cause being the build up of a sticky protein Beta – Amyloid. Alzheimer’s patients have a build up of this protein which is now believed to be the cause of this awful disease
- Go to bed at the same time each night AND get up at the same time the next day. Even at the weekend – your body clock doesn’t know that’s it’s a weekend and lying in confuses it…..have your lazy Sunday breakfast / read in bed by all means, but wake up at the same time as on a weekday….feeling tired later? Have a nap….
- Create an evening ritual at least 30 mins before going to bed. Listen to gentle music, or the radio. Have a hot bath, do some reading or gentle stretching. Things that don’t stimulate your brain and so tell your body it’s time to boost that melatonin.
- Turn down the lights an hour before bed. Since Edison developed the mass marketable lightbulb in 1802, we’ve no longer lived in the natural darkness we’d been used to for millennia. Our lives have become dictated by light as it allows us to be awake for longer – even when we should sleep. So switch off the main lights and use softer side lamps. Or light some candles and T-lights. Again, trigger the release of melatonin and let your body carry out its natural process.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol – I know I won’t make any friends out of this one but…
Caffeine has a half-life of 5-7 hours. That means that if your sensitive to caffeine, having a coffee at 3 pm will cause you to have 50% of the caffeine in your system at 10pm, which will either prevent you sleeping or disturb the quality of your sleep.
Having a beer or glass of wine in the evening to wind down is fairly common and pleasurable, at the time. This is because it’s a sedative. Firstly it immobilizes the prefrontal cortex; the frontal lobes that control our impulses and ensure we don’t miss behave. (That’s why we feel more sociable and become more extroverted when we’ve had a few drinks). But this sedative effect spreads to the rest of the brain and stops you feeling awake…so you feel tired but it doesn’t allow you to enter sleep properly. It prevents REM dream sleep and causes fragmented sleep, which often goes unnoticed by the sleeper.
So that relaxed feeling the evening before is short lived, as it leads to disrupted sleep and more tiredness the next day.
So I’m not saying you have to give your coffee or evening drink – just be more mindful and aware of how it affects your sleep, energy and mood the next day so you can make a choice when and when not to drink it.
Try at least one of these new habits for a week and see how much better you feel…Let me know how you get on….i’d love to hear from you!
The cute photo is thanks to Jackman Chiu on Unsplash
P.S If you’re a professional in a creative industry, do join my Facebook group: The Art of NOT Falling Apart – THE group for those who want to take back control of their health and give their energy a boost!
Nicky Rapley Dip NT, MBANT, CNHC
Nutritional Therapist & Yoga Teacher
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200RYT Yoga & Meditation Instructor
Relax & Renew Certified Restorative Yoga Teacher
Laughter Yoga Leader