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06/08/19Sleep hygiene

White duvet and pillows on a bed

Snore your way to success!

Sleep sleep sleep! We all moan that we don’t get enough of it, but what effect does sleep hygiene have on our bodies? Why is it necessary to sleep? And ultimately, how do we improve our sleep? We have all the necessary tips and information to help you catch some much-needed zzzz’s!

Why is it necessary to sleep?

Contrary to popular belief, sleep does not mean that your body has “shut down”. Your body rather takes this valuable opportunity to stay active and work on restoring, strengthening, consolidating the days information, repairing your body and much more. Sleep has a serious part to play in our bodies functioning and without it, our circadian rhythms (our body clock) will fail to function properly, leading to harmful effects on our body’s functioning systems.

It is important to follow these recommended daily sleep guidelines, to optimise your body’s functioning:

Age

Hours of sleep per day

0-3 months old14-17 hours of sleep a day
4-11 months old12-15 hours of sleep a day
1-2 year olds11-14 hours of sleep a day
3-5 year olds10-13 hours of sleep a day
6-13 year olds9-10 hours of sleep a day
14-17 year olds8-10 hours of sleep a day
18-25 year olds7-9 hours of sleep a day
26-64 year olds7-9 hours of sleep a day
65+7-8 hours of sleep a day

What effect does poor sleep have on our bodies?

If we start to deprive our bodies of sleep or have poor quality sleep, this has a significantly poor and potentially dangerous effect on our bodies. Sleep deprivation can lead to:

  • Increased risks of respiratory issues and heart disease
  • An imbalance of your body’s hormones
  • Body weight fluctuations
  • Problems concentrating
  • High blood pressure
  • Poor balance

Therefore, it is incredibly important to get the correct amount of sleep at night, to give your body the ability to work its best!

What is meant by “good sleep hygiene”?

“Good sleep hygiene” refers to the many methods employed to help you optimise your body’s chance to recover and heal whilst asleep. Just like your own personal body hygiene, you should take just as much care with your body’s sleep hygiene. You wouldn’t not brush your teeth in the morning, so why wouldn’t you have a full 8 hours sleep at night?

How can we improve our sleep?

There are many methods that can be used to help improve an individual’s sleep hygiene. Some of these include:

  • Napping – if you are tired and decide to take a nap, limit your nap time to 30 minutes. 20-30 minutes of daytime napping can rapidly improve your brains performance, improve your behaviour and mood changes and increase alertness. It is important to remember though, that daytime napping should not replace a good night’s sleep!
  • Avoid eating rich and fatty foods, particularly those that have been fried, and fizzy drinks. No one enjoys heartburn, especially close to bedtime!
  • Create your own bedtime routine – whether it be reading for 30 minutes before going to sleep, having a bath or enjoying a cup of herbal tea, a simple bedtime routine can relax your body, letting you drift off easily when it comes to lights out.
  • Turn off all blue light devices an hour before bed – devices such as: mobile phones, laptops, iPods, televisions, tablets etc. all use blue light to brighten the screen. Blue light is an artificial form of light that effects our bodies production of melatonin. Our circadian rhythms are effectively our body’s clock and relies on the days sunlight to prompt our body to sleep. During the day, the light is detected by our retinas and sends signals to our hypothalamus that we need to remain awake. However, as it starts to get dark our retinas pick this up and sends a signal to our hypothalamus to start producing the hormone melatonin. Melatonin helps regulate our sleep patterns and is produced by our pineal glands. Therefore, if we are looking at screens before we go to bed, we are tricking our body into thinking its day time and increase our alert rather than winding down and relaxing. The biggest culprit for this is phones! Do not go to bed with your phone in your hand before you go to sleep if you want to a good night’s sleep!
  • Avoid stimulants – Drinking coffee, caffeinated teas, fizzy sugary drinks and smoking before you go to bed is not good for you. It only increases your bodies alertness.
  • Exercise – good quality aerobic exercise, even for just 10 minutes a day can improve your sleep pattern. Find what exercise works best for you.

With all this being said, juggling a job, family and social lives as well as your hobbies can be a challenge and sometimes it’s easier to just hop into bed after a stressful day without going through a bedtime ritual. It’s important to try your best and find what works best for you and your schedule. But remember your health is important and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Night night!

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