Wellness Wednesdays: Quality over quantity when it comes to sleep

Everyone knows that sleep is an integral part of overall health and well-being. Lack of sleep is generally blamed for poor performance, irritability, weight gain, stress, loss of concentration and a weak immune system to name a few but poor quality of sleep is actually the culprit. Most people sleep much more than they need to (how many people do you know that claim that they need at least ten hours per night to be functional?), the problem with this is that the more you sleep the more you feel you need to sleep; this is because your sleep-wake cycle follows a regular pattern (circadian rhythm) and when you sleep “too much” that pattern shifts.  

Quality over Quantity

 

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A few pointers to help improve your quality of sleep:

  • We recommend getting 7.5 hours of sleep per night as the sleep cycle lasts between 80 – 120 minutes and the average person has about five of these a night.
  • Go to bed and wake up at the same times every day – this helps your body keep your sleeping patterns regular. If you must deviate from these times, limit the difference to two hours.
  • Keep your bedroom at a comfortable temperature: 18 – 22 degrees celsius is generally recommended as the best temperature for sleeping.
  • Invest in darker curtains or blinds in the bedroom, light is a signal to your body that it should be awake.
  • If you are a light sleep use white noise (like a fan) to mull distracting noises.
  • Do not use technology or partake in any mind stimulating activities before bed.
  • Start some bed time rituals: take a warm bath, drink some milk or herbal tea (chamomile is great), massage your temples with some lavender essential oils, practise some deep breathing, stretch, read or meditate. Anything that relaxes you really.
  • Avoid alcohol for three hours before you go bed and caffeine for six.
  • If you nap during the day, make sure that it is only a power nap (limit it to at most 30 minutes).
  • Don’t keep your phone/alarm clock right next to your bed, put it somewhere so that when it goes off you have to get up to turn it off. 
  • Once you are up – stay up and then move! Try this three minute morning yoga routine or skip/run on the spot for a few minutes.
  • Set goals for the year (read here and here to help you) as having goals will give you a reason to get up in the morning.
  • The fitter and healthier you are the better you will sleep and you will have more energy generally.

Do you have any other suggestions for us on how to improve your quality of sleep? Let us know if any of these help you improve your quality of sleep and thus life.

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