Why It Matters
A bad night's sleep can ruin your day, as well as having negative effects on your health.
Imagine: it's 7am, you start to hear the first notes of your alarm chime. Usually you'd moan and reach for the snooze button - but not today. Today, you think: "Yeah. That was enough sleep. I'm ready to get up." And you do. Without the coffee drip feed. Sound impossible? Not so...
The BTS: Sleep Cycles
Your 'sleep cycle' is determined by your 'circadian rhythm', which is basically your body clock keeping you alert and then sleepy throughout a 24 hour cycle. This cycle is controlled by a part of your brain called the hypothalamus, but is also influenced by external environment - most importantly daylight and darkness. So when it gets dark at night, this signals to your brain that it's time to start winding down, and vice versa.
1. Have a routine.
Go to bed and wake up at the same hour (e.g. between 10pm - 11pm) every day, even on weekends. Fine, the odd Big Night might throw that, but aiming to keep a steady schedule will ensure Monday morning isn't such a shock to the system, and will keep that circadian rhythm running smooth.
2. Ban the blue.
As we've learned, your body relies in part on darkness to indicate when it is time to sleep, and will secrete the hormone 'melatonin' accordingly. Melatonin plays a vital role in sending you to sleep.
Blue light, emitted by electronic devices in particular, is extremely effective in inhibiting the release of melatonin, meaning you won't feel tired even when it's time to sleep. So pack up the electronics an hour before bed and opt for reading in a dimmed room instead.
3. Kick the caffeine.
Whilst great for improving focus and alertness during the day, this is not what you need come bedtime. The effects of caffeine can last from 4 to 6 hours, so avoid consuming it in any form after around 3pm. If you're used to used to a mid afternoon pick me up, swap out coffee for The Detox Booster mixed with hot almond milk, for an anti-oxidant kick without the long-lasting buzz.
4. Practice meditation.
If you're kept up by a busy mind during the night, adding meditation to your daily routine will teach you how to better manage these thoughts and calm your mind. Practicing a few steps in bed can help you destress and drift off.
5. Avoid long daytime naps.
This will come as a tough one to many, but napping for long periods during the day will mess up your sleep cycle and have you buzzing later on. If you're feeling sleepy during the day, go for a walk or distract yourself with friends, and save the dreams for later. If you absolutely need to nap, make sure it's 40 minutes tops.
6. Don't rely on unnecessary medication.
Don't fall into a habit of taking sleeping medication when you don't need it. Not only will your body increase its tolerance to certain medication, making it less effective, but you may begin to feel reliant on these drugs to get a good night's sleep - placebo or otherwise. Save medicated sleep aids for emergency situations, and if you feel like you need help winding down, opt for natural relaxants like chamomile tea, or The Relax Capsules.