Sleep is one of the most fundamental and essential components of human health and well-being. Despite this, many people fail to prioritise a good slumber, sacrificing it in favour of work, socialising, or other activities (phone surfing perhaps?). However, the importance of good quality sleep cannot be overstated. Neglecting it can have serious consequences for your physical and mental health.

Why is sleep so important?

Let’s explore some of the key reasons.

Rest and Restoration

This is the body’s way of resting and restoring itself. During sleep, the body is able to repair and regenerate tissues, muscles, and cells, and to strengthen the immune system. It also helps the brain to consolidate memories and process information from the previous day, allowing for better cognitive function and decision-making.

Physical Health

Lack of sleep has been linked to a number of serious physical health issues, including obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and immune dysfunction. Chronic sleep deprivation can also increase the risk of accidents and injuries, as well as impairing athletic performance and recovery.

Mental Health

Sleep is crucial for maintaining good mental health, with studies linking poor sleep quality to a range of psychological disorders, including depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder. It can also exacerbate symptoms of existing mental health conditions, and can contribute to the development of substance abuse problems.

Mood and Emotions

Getting enough sleep is essential for regulating mood and emotions. Sleep deprivation can lead to irritability, mood swings, and decreased ability to cope with stress. Conversely, good sleep quality can help to boost positive emotions, increase feelings of well-being, and improve overall quality of life.

Cognitive Function

Sleep is essential for optimal cognitive function, including memory, attention, and decision-making. Lack of sleep can impair cognitive performance, leading to reduced productivity, poor academic performance, and decreased creativity.

Sleep is an absolutely essential component of overall health and well-being. Neglecting sleep can have serious consequences for physical and mental health, as well as cognitive function and overall quality of life. To prioritise sleep, it is important to establish healthy sleep habits, also called sleep hygiene

Sleep hygiene

Sleep hygiene

This refers to a set of practices and habits that can help improve the quality of your sleep. Getting enough high-quality sleep is crucial for your physical and mental health, but many people struggle with sleep-related issues. By implementing good sleep hygiene habits, you can promote better sleep and wake up feeling more refreshed and energised.

Here are some tips for establishing good sleep hygiene:

Stick to a consistent sleep schedule

Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, including on weekends, can help regulate your body’s internal clock and improve sleep quality. Even if you have trouble falling asleep at first, try to wake up at the same time every day to help establish a routine.

Create a comfortable sleep environment

Make sure your bedroom is cool, dark, and quiet, and that your bed and pillows are comfortable. How old are your pillows and mattress? Consider investing in blackout curtains or a white noise machine if you’re easily disturbed by light or sound.

Limit exposure to electronic screens before bedtime

The blue light emitted by electronic devices can disrupt your body’s production of the sleep hormone melatonin, making it harder to fall asleep. Try to avoid using electronic devices for at least an hour before bedtime, or use a blue light filter or screen dimming app if you must use them.

Do you really need your device in your room?

Some people (including me) have their sleep affected by having their device in their room. Others can’t resist the temptation. Either way, if you don’t need your device in your room, give yourself a break from it, and keep it somewhere else overnight.  If someone REALLY needs to get in contact with you, they will find a way. Buy an old school alarm clock.  If you really do need to have your device in your room, have it out of arm’s reach, and use the device’s features to restrict notifications except for the ones you actually need.

Avoid caffeine and alcohol close to bedtime

Caffeine is a stimulant that can keep us awake, so it’s best to avoid it within six hours of bedtime. While alcohol may initially make us feel drowsy, it can actually disrupt our sleep later in the night, leading to poorer sleep quality overall.

Establish a relaxing bedtime routine

Engage in calming activities such as reading, taking a warm bath, or practicing relaxation techniques like meditation or deep breathing in the hour leading up to bedtime. This can help signal to your body that it’s time to wind down and prepare for sleep.

Exercise regularly, but not close to bedtime

Regular exercise can improve sleep quality, but it’s best to finish your workout at least a few hours before bedtime. Exercise releases endorphins, which can increase alertness and make it harder to fall asleep.

Limit daytime naps

While short naps can help boost energy and productivity, too much daytime sleep can disrupt our night-time sleep patterns. If you do nap, aim for no more than 20-30 minutes and try to do it early in the afternoon.

By incorporating these habits into your daily routine, you can improve your sleep hygiene and promote better sleep quality. While everyone’s sleep needs are different, practicing good sleep hygiene can help you wake up feeling more rested and refreshed. This can have positive impacts on your physical and mental health over time.

Circadian health

Circadian Health

Sleep hygiene is critical for a good night’s sleep, and it’s critical for your circadian health,  a term used to describe the various processes that follow a daily rhythm in our body. The human body has an internal clock that helps regulate sleep, hormone secretion, digestion, and other important bodily functions.

Circadian rhythms are influenced by various external factors such as light exposure, temperature, and social cues. These rhythms help regulate the timing of sleep and wakefulness, hunger and appetite, hormone secretion, and many other biological processes.

Studies have shown that disruptions to your circadian rhythms can have negative effects on your health, including increased risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety.

Tips to improve Circadian Rhythms

  1. Stick to a regular sleep schedule: Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, even on weekends.
  2. Get plenty of natural light: Exposure to natural light during the day can help regulate your internal clock and improve your sleep at night.
  3. Limit exposure to artificial light at night: The blue light emitted by electronic devices can disrupt your sleep. Try to limit screen time before bed or use a blue light filter on your devices. I personally have never seen anyone that has told me their sleep improved once they used a blue light filter – put down the device!
  4. Eat a healthy diet: Eating a balanced diet can help regulate your hormones and improve our yoverall health.
  5. Exercise regularly: Exercise can help regulate your sleep and improve your overall health.
  6. Manage stress: Chronic stress can disrupt your circadian rhythms and lead to a variety of health problems. Try to find healthy ways to manage stress such as meditation, yoga or kinesiology.

Taking care of your sleep, sleep hygiene and circadian health is important for your overall health and well-being. By making small changes to your daily routine, you can help regulate your internal clock and improve your sleep, mood, and overall health.

Try these tips out, and if they still don’t help improve your sleep, it’s time to reach out to a professional for help. You may need some support with nutrition, stress or how your body functions – all things your local kinesiologist can help you with!

Feel free to book an in-person or online kinesiology consultation to save your sleep today.

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