What’s the plan for 2017 – to get fit, lose weight and generally be healthier? Or perhaps to get a new job or just try to be more organised? Possibly all of the above! Well, if we want to achieve any of the above, then there’s one New Year resolution we really need to stick to – and that’s reclaiming good quality sleep.
Modern life has impacted our relationship with sleep so much that half of British adults admit to having problems falling asleep. And lack of sleep has a detrimental knock-on effect on our whole body, says sleep expert Dave Gibson. The first thing which happens is that we start to become moody and irritable, and start to get a foggy head, with our short-term memory, our ability to plan and to make decisions and rational judgments all affected by lack of sleep, he continues.
But Dave, who advises on sleep for bed makers Warren Evans, says it’s not just our attention levels and cognitive processes that are affected, lack of sleep is a critical factor in relation to our energy levels too. He adds: Not adequately resting can lead to a decrease in energy levels – our energy stores are lowered, especially when our immune system is working hard (like when it’s fighting infection) as it tries to borrow energy from other parts of your energy stores – making us feel tired in the day.
Our weight, appetite and fat storage tend to be changed too, and we get cravings for energy-dense foods such as fat and carbohydrates – something to think about, especially if weight loss is on the agenda in 2017.
Considering all of this, it seems we are much more likely to keep our New Year resolutions when our brain function is at its optimum and our energy levels are good. Whether it’s sticking to a new diet, stopping smoking, keeping fit or generally being more organised, it makes sense that we will find it much easier when we are well rested from continuous and good quality sleep.
We asked Dave for his five top tips for helping us remaster the art of falling asleep in 2017…..
- Establish a Healthy Sleep Routine – go back to your factory sleep settings. Are you a night owl or morning lark? Listen to your body and get back to night and day. At the very least, ensure you have a regular sleep pattern, your brain likes habits and getting to sleep is made easier when you follow a routine.
- Make Your Bedroom a Modern-day Cave – Think dark and cool, you need a bedroom with a balanced temperature, around 15.5 – 20 degrees centigrade is good. Darkness is key so try to eliminate all light, try using black out blinds if you find the early morning light waking you up and reduce all noise. Keeping your bedroom clean, clutter-free will also help.
- Get Your Bed Sorted – People with uncomfortable beds, which can cause muscular aches and back pain, sleep on average one hour less each night, the Sleep Assessment & Advisory Service in Edinburgh has found. Deep sleep does not start until after the first 90 minutes of rest, so if you wake up every 2 hours due to a poor quality mattress, you are not getting enough deep sleep. To ensure you get a restful and rejuvenating night’s sleep invest in a good mattress that is right for you (and your partner).
- Eat Right for Sleep – Our digestive system and our sleep are inextricably linked, with both when and what we eat and drink directly impacting on our quality of sleep. Our gut contains 90% of the body’s serotonin, over 50% of the body’s dopamine and 400 times more melatonin that the pineal gland. These hormones play vital roles in mood and sleep. Eat a varied diet with foods containing nutrients such as tryptophan, magnesium and vitamin D and eating your last big meal about four (and at least two) hours before you go to sleep… and avoid stimulants such as caffeine and sugar after lunch.
- Meditate & Relax – Stress is one of the biggest factors stopping Brits from falling and staying asleep. Our drive to stay constantly connected with work and tech means we start and finish the day loaded with stress and adrenaline – so having a device deadline an hour before sleep is advised. Practicing mindfulness and learning simple yet effective meditation and relaxation techniques will help get your mind and body into a good place for sleep.
Dave has created a free sleep guide – The Art of Falling Asleep -giving simple, easy to follow advice and techniques to help us all fall asleep and stay asleep. Find it at www.warrenevans.com/sleep-tips/