“Happiness consists of getting enough sleep. Just that, nothing more.”
— Robert A. Heinlein
We all have a love-hate relationship with sleep throughout our lives. As a young child, ‘nap time’ was the enemy; a boring activity to be avoided and resisted. As an adult with a full, busy life, the notion of a nap sounds utterly blissful – a rare commodity to be coveted at any opportunity. But how big a role should sleep play in our lives and how essential is quality sleep for our overall wellbeing?
Regardless of your lifestyle, health or fitness, getting adequate sleep should be a top priority for everyone. The body requires long periods of sleep in order to restore and rejuvenate, to grow muscle, repair tissue, and synthesise hormones. Furthermore, sleep plays a crucial role in solidifying and consolidating memories, while detoxifying the body and optimising immune health.
Here at THE STYLE EDIT we can’t get enough of the heavenly zees, so check out our top tips for securing a super night’s sleep…
Many of us are guilty of claiming that our regular coffee fixes throughout the day have little negative effect, as we have no trouble falling asleep at night. However, caffeine can undoubtedly have a negative impact on sleep quality and duration. Being a stimulant, the body can struggle to metabolise caffeine, meaning it may stay in our system throughout the night. Caffeine is also a diuretic, which can prompt bathroom visits when we should be soundly in the land of nod. Try imposing a caffeine curfew and limit your intake to before lunchtime.
Expose Yourself To Daylight
Getting outside in the daylight and exposing yourself to the sun’s rays (safely of course) will support healthy hormone balance. Melatonin, a hormone produced in the brain’s pineal gland, is responsible for the regulation of the body clock. The release of this hormone is largely controlled by exposure to natural light, or a lack thereof. Maintaining a natural rhythm of exposure to daylight, and darkness at night is an essential component of sleeping soundly and maintaining a steady sleep cycle.
Block Out The Blue Light
The light environment within the bedroom is crucial when it comes to securing a good night’s slumber, as our sleep hormone melatonin is highly light reactive. Blue or bright lights should be avoided in the evening to increase levels of melatonin release. It is vital that the bedroom is completely dark as the smallest light from a streetlight, charger or alarm clock will be picked up by the brain and effect the hormonal output. Blackout blinds at home and eye masks when travelling are useful methods to control your sleep environment.
Something we often overlook is the temperature of our bedroom and how this can affect sleep quality. Research indicates that the optimal temperature for sleep is quite cool at around 15 degrees Celsius. In fact, studies suggest that some cases of insomnia may be attributed to unregulated body temperature. A drop in core body temperature helps to make us feel sleepy, so creating the ‘cave-like’ environment of quiet, dark and cool is best for a successful snooze.
One the most effective things you can do in the wind down for bedtime is switch off EVERYTHING. That includes mobile phone, laptop, tablet, television and in turn, your brain. Spend the last hour of your day entering into ‘sleep mode’. Relax, read, meditate or practice deep breathing. Create a calming environment in which your senses can slowly shut off, preparing for a restful, uninterrupted sleep.