Let's Sleep On It
by Penny McIntosh, Managing Director, Fitnut
My nearest and dearest will tell you I'm an optimist, not just a half full gal, definitely three-quarters but……. sometimes life gets overwhelming and I've realised that I'm not so good at sleeping these days.
It seems that I'm not alone. In my line of work I'm continually talking to people about their health and well-being and increasingly our conversations take a turn to the challenges they face getting a good night's sleep. Can you relate to that?
Maybe you run a business like I do, or you're responsible for a team, or you have a hectic family life, or you're just trying to get through each day in one piece. Perhaps you have the added sleep related challenges of being a shift worker, a night worker or you are a frequent flyer battling the discombobulating effects of jetlag.
More than a quarter of us experience poor sleep quality regularly and more than a third of us get by on only 5 – 6 hours a night (reports The Sleep Council). The sleep an individual needs varies from person to person but poor quality sleep even for 1 night affects our mood, concentration, productivity, alertness and happiness while prolonged sleep deprivation can lead to serious health consequences.
Penny McIntosh, Managing Director, Fitnut
Ironically, I have to continually remind myself to practice what I preach on sleep and relaxation – so being asked to write this blog couldn't have come at a better time. It helps me to share some bullet points with you for the best night's sleep ever – you can make up your own bedtime rules but do include these relatively simple steps:
- No alcohol, eating, smoking or exercise for at least 3 hours before the time you plan to go to sleep.
- Make time for a little more exercise earlier in the day. I know, it can be tough to find the time or motivation but it will be worth it. One third of people who exercise daily say they sleep very well most nights plus you'll benefit from an extra dose of endorphins and stress release.
- No tech for at least an hour before sleep time – that includes your back-lit kindle, phone, tablet, TV. The blue light from these devices disrupts the production of the sleep hormone melatonin.
- Bedrooms should be cool to cold – ideally less than 20 degrees, dark and quiet. Keep your bedding light and get rid of those pyjamas!
- Never bring work to bed.
- And speaking of beds – it might be time for a new mattress and pillows. One of the reasons for poor quality sleep is that you are just not comfortable or properly supported in bed. It is recommended that you change your mattress every 5 – 7 years. I'd wager you don't know how old the one is you sleep on every night!
- An hour before sleep time take a cool shower and brush your teeth – this might not help you sleep but it stops a whiff of armpits and dragon breath while you're lying awake! I go one further and walk into a light spray Chanel Gabrielle – never fails to put a smile on my face.
- Pee last thing before you get into bed. As you naturally detox about 4am your bladder will get to its limit and wake you up too early otherwise.
- Once in bed, in the dark, silently count backwards from 200, imagining the numbers as you go. At first you will find that your mind has wandered off into work or problem-solving mode and you can't remember where you counted down to – just start from 200 again. After a few weeks of practice you won't get beyond 196 before you're softly snoring.
For more advice on health and well-being visit www.fitnut.co.uk.