“Sleep affects every aspect of health, every organ system and every disease state. If you want your body to function properly, you need to get both quantity and quality sleep,” said The Sleep Doctor, Dr. Michael Breus, Ph.D., Clinical Psychologist and a Fellow of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, speaking to Vogue Arabia. He goes on to explain that “those that are sleep deprived can experience both mental and physical symptoms and side effects, such as increased blood pressure, a weak immune system, poor memory, anxiety and depression.” So what counts for a proper night’s rest? Dr. Breus suggests 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep for the average adult and enlists some tips below on how you can improve your quality of sleep by tweaking your every day habits.
1. Keep a consistent sleep schedule
Sleep is critical to long-term health, and women lose more sleep than men due to hormones, pregnancy, and certainly once children come along it can mean the loss of hundreds of hours. Establishing a sleep routine is important; our bodies love routine, and ensuring that you have a certain number of hours sleep per night is important to your overall health and wellbeing. Try to go to bed at the same time, and set your wake-up time to be the same every day; this will naturally enforce your own circadian rhythms, providing a calming effect to the mind.
2. Stop caffeine by 2pm
Caffeine is a powerful stimulant, and its effects can be felt long after we’ve consumed it. It can trigger anxiety, which floods the body with hormones, keeping it alert and on edge and making it difficult to fall asleep. If you must consume coffee, opt for a caffeine-free alternative or switch to herbal teas.
3. Stop exercise four hours before bed
While exercise is great for the body, it also releases endorphins, which wake it up, so the best time to exercise is ideally in the morning or early afternoon, when you might need a little pep. Immediately after work is fine, as long as you allow yourself time to relax before going to bed.
4. Get 15 minutes of sunlight each morning
Exposure to at least 15 minutes of sunlight each day helps your melatonin production, which contributes to a healthy circadian rhythm, and promotes better sleep. It also supports a number of other bodily functions, which lead to overall wellbeing. To get the best effects, combine your daily exercise with exposure to a little sun in order to set your body up for a good night’s sleep.