Lack of sleep – the amount and the quality of it – has for some time now been linked to a variety of serious health problems.
But does it really matter how much sleep we get? And who’s got the time to get much sleep when there is social media to check, Netflix to binge-watch, and a triple-shot coffee to get us out the door by 8.30am?
It turns out that it does matter. A lot. Insufficient sleep has been linked to a host of health problems including obesity, cardiovascular disease and depression.
Here are some ways to improve your sleep.
Reduce caffeine. Try to stay away from caffeine close to bedtime: half the caffeine you take in at 7 pm can still in your body at 11 pm.
Limit alcohol. While a glass of wine may help you fall asleep initially, it will alter your sleep pattern and the quality of your sleep.
Establish a rhythm. Plan a relaxing routine 30-60 minutes before bed. Try for a set bed-time each night.
Workout. Exercising daily can help alleviate anxiety and depression which can interfere with sleep. It also raises your body temperature, with the ensuing decrease in core body temperature that follows helping us achieve better sleep.
Turn off your device well before heading to bed. Light slows down the production of melatonin, the hormone that helps us sleep, and the blue light from screens can disturb the quality of our sleep and keep us awake for longer.
A single night of poor sleep is enough to see the effects. No one is suggesting there is any direct link between the odd night of lousy sleep and serious illness, but getting enough of the right kind of sleep should be something we all prioritise – not only so we feel alert the next day, but to protect our health in the future.