Studies have found a link between insufficient sleep and some serious health problems such as heart disease, heart attacks, anxiety, diabetes, and obesity, not to mention it impairs your brain function, attention, and your decision-making. How many times have you been so tired that you’ve not moved, functioned or even recalled simple things effectively?
And as someone who can actually claim sleep as a hobby, I agree with the research and feel that lack of sleep is just as detrimental to our health as unhealthy eating habits or lack of exercise.
Health and fitness isn’t just about what you eat or how much exercise you do, it’s about well-being for body and mind and sufficient sleep is a huge part of it. When a client’s had a bad night’s sleep I can see their performance, concentration and motivation drop immensely. And when I’ve not had enough sleep, I feel my performance as a coach and personal trainer also lacks and I feel unprofessional.
Children, shift work, stimulants too close to bedtime and a bad sleep environment all contribute and obviously these can be hard to control. However, making the best of what you can to get a good sleep will make such a difference to your health and vitality. So here are my top five tips for a better sleep:
1. Try to sleep regular hours. If you work shifts, try and get 4 hours sleep over the same period each day (such as 12pm-4am)
2. Create a restful sleeping environment. Make sure your bed and pillows are comfortable, the room isn’t too hot or cold, and it is as dark and quiet as possible.
3. Avoid caffeine too close to bedtime and don’t overindulge on food and booze too close to bed either. All of these will give you a restless sleep.
4. Try to relax. This may seem easier said than done when you have a small human screaming in the other room, but take some time to unwind and clear your mind before you go to sleep. Meditation, a warm bath, quiet music, reading or yoga have all been shown to help relax the mind.
5. Exercise also helps to de-stress and aids sleep, however try not to do it too close to bedtime otherwise you may overstimulate yourself.