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Personify Fitness

Sleep Easy

Is lack of sleep dragging you down? Before you reach for the sleeping tablets, try these tips from Ben Short.

Often, I find clients haven’t linked low mood or poor energy levels to tiredness because they are so used to having a bad sleep pattern. As well as feeling grumpy or having poor concentration, continued lack of sleep can affect your health – it can disrupt the immune system, increase the risk of diabetes and heart disease, as well as affect mental well-being. As regular routines resume after the summer, knock poor sleep on the head with these tips:

Cut the caffeine:

It’s the number one culprit. Avoid caffeinated drink including hot chocolate, cocoa and some fizzy drinks, after 3pm. Some pain relief also contains caffeine. Always worth reading the label first.

Bedroom boredom:

De-clutter your bedroom so you don’t go to sleep thinking “I must sort that out”. The same goes for children – they have a toy-infested room they may well struggle to go to sleep, and will be distracted if they wake up in the night. Have a strict ‘no work’ policy in the bedroom, and keep it free of ‘work clutter’ such as briefcases, laptops, phones.

Go back to paperbacks:

Avoid electronic devices, such as mobile phones, tablets, and TVs, at least 90 minutes before bedtime. The blue light emitted from these screens can delay the release of sleep-inducing melatonin, and reduce the amount of REM sleep (when dreams occur) so you wake up feeling tired. Pick up a paperback instead. If your teenager insists on using electronic devices at bedtime, encourage them to dim the brightness on the screen. Or, install an app that automatically warms up the colours on the screen at sunset, away from the blues and towards the reds and yellows.

Desensitise the brain:

If watching TV in bed is part of your routine, then op for a film or series you have seen before – that way your brain won’t be stimulated trying to work out what is going to happen. For young children, read them a familiar bedtime story and save new books for daytime reading.

Desensitise your senses:

Wear earplugs to reduce noise. However, soft, steady sounds can be soothing so ‘white noise’ tapes might help you fall asleep and sleep more soundly. Black out curtains will reduce light stimulus for children, and adults can also try an eye mask. If you wake up in the night to use the bathroom, avoid turning on bright, overhead lights. Keep your bedroom to a cool 16 to 18 degrees for optimum sleeping temperature, suggest recent research.

Drinking and eating before bedtime:

Although alcohol can cause drowsiness, excess can affect the quality of your REM sleep. Drink sensibly and avoid alcohol where possible for a better night’s sleep. Reduce the volume of liquid around two hours before bedtime to avoid night-time excursions to the bathroom. Eating late can cause restless sleep as the body works through the night to digest food. If you can’t avoid eating after 8pm, give fatty meats and curries a miss, and opt for foods that include the sleep-enhancing chemical tryptophan, which can be found in turkey, chicken pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, peanuts and beans.

Exercise:

Parents tell me that when they and their children have taken part in parkrun the whole family sleeps better. Yoga and Pilates are also known for aiding a good night’s sleep.

Just before you go to sleep:

Try relaxation and breathing techniques or listen to meditation tapes. If you wake in the night, repeat the breathing techniques. Or draw senseless squiggles on a notepad until you feel sleepy. These are best for the creative minds.

Don’t expect a quick fix…

If you have had months of restricted sleep, you’ll have built up a significant sleep debt, so give these tips a try for several weeks. If you’re still struggling after that, see your GP.

We hope you found this useful, feel free to share the link on social media or with friends also struggling with their sleep routine.

If You Do One Thing This Month...

Try wearing a sleep mask to bed. You can pick these up from your local pharmacist, chemist or large supermarket.

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Twitter
LinkedIn
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Reddit
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Pocket
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Email
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