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Sleep better and feel better

All Areas > Health & Beauty > Looking Good, Feeling Great

Author: Matt Wagstaff, Posted: Wednesday, 24th December 2014, 08:00

A poor night’s sleep, or developing a poor sleeping pattern, can lead to a variety of negative health problems – from a higher chance of becoming obese or developing Type 2 diabetes, to becoming more stressed and unfocussed in the work place.

The hormone cortisol is produced in excess in people who sleep less. It can attack the immune system, leading to an increased risk of illnesses, and it also damages the skin leading to less elasticity – making you look older, among other health complications.

Having an efficient sleep pattern, an optimal sleep duration of between 7-10 hours and an effective before-bed routine can have positive effects on health and productivity, as well as helping to reduce in stress.

Following some simple steps can increase the likelihood of getting a good night’s sleep and waking up feeling refreshed!

watch what you eat and drink
Eating before bed – especially a big meal – can prevent you from sleeping as your body will be attempting to digest the meal. Therefore, your body will not be able to go through its usual before-sleep routine of cooling you down and relaxing you via the release of melatonin into your blood stream. Avoiding caffeinated food and drinks is also a good idea – caffeine increases your heart rate and releases adrenalin hormones and cortisol for up to six hours, making it hard for your body to cool down and relax.

cut out the light
Artificial light coming from televisions, computers and light bulbs can affect sleep – especially the blue-light given off. This gives the brain the feeling that it is still daytime and, therefore, it does not start the usual stages of relaxing and cooling down. Avoiding very bright screens and mobile phones in the hour before bed will give your brain the signal to start the sleep cycle.

de-stress before bed
Trying to turn your brain off before bed can be an issue, especially when there is a long list of things you need to do the following day or a big project to plan. Stressing too much while attempting to sleep releases cortisol, which stops the natural sleep cycle and makes it hard to switch off. Getting into a planned routine before bed can help you to relax more easily, and making a list of the things that need to be done the following day, and an action plan, can reduce your brain from over thinking and help you switch off.

Exercise
Being physically active in the day can have big benefits on getting a good night’s sleep. Fatiguing the body and mind can encourage the body to sleep at night, helping the recovery process. Exercise also improves blood flow and temperature control, which helps your body to cool before bed. Exercising in the morning or approximately 4-5 hours before bed is optimal, as this gives the body time to cool before bedtime.

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