Healthy sleeping habits and a good night’s sleep (at least seven hours) allow the body time to do important physiological maintenance. During the initial phase of light sleep, the vast amount of information received that day is erased, and only the memories of importance are kept. Then one goes into deep sleep during which growth hormone is released, and lots of bodily repair and housekeeping is performed. During deep sleep muscles relax, and heart rate and blood pressure decreases.
In order to assist the body to do the necessary maintenance during sleep, it is important to implement healthy habits to improve your sleep:
- · Use your bedroom for sleeping only and not for other activities, such as watching television. The body and mind will get into the mode of the bedroom being a sanctuary to be slept in.
- · Establish a bedtime routine where you relax and reward yourself at least an hour before getting into bed, for instance by relaxing in the bath, listening to music or reading a book to help relax your body and mind.
- · Daily physical activity that will increase the heart rate for at least 30 minutes is recommended for healthy sleeping patterns, but not shortly before going to bed, as it may leave you too energized to sleep. A short walk first thing in the morning will help set your circadian clock to be in synch with sleeping and waking times.
- · Try to switch off all electronic devices and the television well in advance before going to bed. The bluish light emitted by electronic devices can suppress melatonin production in the body and disrupt the sleep cycle more powerfully than other forms of light. Use dim red lights for night lights. Red light has the least power to suppress the production of melatonin and influence the circadian rhythm.
- · Alcohol may make you fall asleep quicker, but sleep quality is poor as it disrupts your sleep when the effect wears off. Best not to have a drink at least three to four hours before bedtime.
- · Establish a routine of going to sleep and waking up at the same times.
- · Sleep in a dark room and ensure that the bed and bedding are comfortable.
Four easy tips to improve your sleep. Published online 26 June 2017. The Daily Health. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Sleep. Health Insight blog.
Blue light has a dark side. Published in the May 2017 Harvard Health Letter. Harvard Medical School. (www.health.harvard.edu)
What is your sleep IQ? Published in the June 2017 Harvard health Letter. Harvard Medical School. (www.health.harvard.edu)