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What Doctors Don't Tell You

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August 2018 (Vol. 3 Issue 6)

Five ways to improve your sleep
About the author: 
Buster Manston

Five ways to improve your sleep image

A poor nights sleep has been linked to everything from weight gain, type 2 diabetes and even Alzheimer's. So we look at five actions you can take to ensure you have a restful nights slumber.

  1. Follow a sleep schedule

Setting yourself a schedule may sound obvious, but most of us don't. Having regular bedtime and wake up times helps to set your body-clock, meaning you get the right amount of sleep, and of a better quality.

  1. Consider your diet and meal times

What we put in our body during the day sustains us through the night. It is the fuel that allows our body to rest, creating important new brain cell connections, and form new muscle tissue.

Eat your last meal of the evening at least two hours before bed. That way your body will not be expending so much energy digesting your food while you sleep. Try to avoid stimulants such as nicotine, alcohol and caffeine, as these can disrupt entering a deep continuous sleep.

  1. Exercise regularly

Regular exercise can promote a better quality of sleep, and can increase your slow wave sleep time. The slow wave phase of sleeping is the period of sleep in which your body carries out vital repair and maintenance.1

  1. Limit your naps

While napping may feel like a good way to catch up on lost sleep, it can actually hinder your chances of entering a deep sleep at night.

If you feel you need to nap, try to avoid resting for longer than 30 minutes, and not within 4 hours before you try to go to bed.

  1. Assess your sleeping environment and get in a bedtime routine.

This may take some trial and error, but find the things that could be disturbing your restful sleep and eliminate the

  • Try calming activities such as a soothing bath or relaxation techniques.
  • Avoid using light-emitting screens for at least an hour before bed.
  • Turn off as many power sockets as possible in your bedroom.
  • Avoid any unnecessary light. Perhaps consider purchasing black out blinds.
  • Consider how sound affects your sleep. For some people, purchasing earplugs may be a good option. Others may like to play some very quiet background noise such as rain sounds. See what works for you.

References

1) King AC, Oman RF, Brassinton GS, Bliwise DL, Haskell WL. Moderate-intensity exercise and self-rated quality of sleep in older adults. JAMA 1997; 227: 32-37

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