Don’t toss and turn all night

We know sleep is vital for our health, but how many of us get the recommended seven to nine hours each night?

If you’re among the throng that struggle to get the shut-eye you need, you’ll be surprised to learn there is a solution — tweaking your daily routine.

Given sleep deprivation is linked to high blood pressure, obesity, negative mood and behaviour, it’s important to get a good night’s rest.

A bad night not only zaps your energy, but also sets you up for another bad day, followed by another bad night.

And so the revolving door of poor sleep begins.

So how can you can break the cycle?

Unless you have something clinically wrong, there are some simple changes you can make to improve the situation.

In this Health Storylines challenge, use the Daily Planner to track what activities you do during the day. If you see a pattern of poor sleeping, it often can be linked back to those activities.

That is, the best way to break the cycle is to make changes to your daily routine and night-time habits. For example, start going to bed at a specific time every night.

It is important to reset your body clock. If you go to sleep and wake up around the same time each day, even on weekends, you’ll retrain your brain to begin a healthy snooze-wake schedule. But you’ll need to stick to this for at least seven days for your body and brain to adjust.

Online health and well-being site WebMD suggests adopting this simple routine will eventually help you nod off more quickly – and have a sounder rest through the night.

Another tip is to avoid exercise too close to bedtime. Aim to complete any workouts three to four hours before heading off to bed.

Of course if you stick to a healthy diet and eat right at night, by avoiding heavy or fat-laden foods, you’ll also improve your sleep. Big meals eaten late overload the digestive system, which disrupt rest. If you’re really starving, try a light snack, such as a smoothie, or  bowl of cereal, or crackers and cheese.

And you’ll need to watch what you drink. Stop sipping beverages, even water, in the last two hours before bed. That way you’ll avoid a midnight toilet run. Alcohol is a known rest disruptor, causing you to toss and turn throughout the night, and wake up dehydrated.

Another tip is to lower the lights about two to three hours before you plan to go to bed. This sends a signal to your brain to make melatonin, the hormone which brings on sleep.

When we get the sleep we need, it helps us feel mentally sharp, emotionally balanced, and full of energy the following day. It also ensures a strong immune system.

I hope you will join me on this journey to improve sleep. Just click on this link to get started.

The author has used the Health Storylines since being diagnosed with neuroendocrine tumours of the small intestine in 2016. After more than a year documenting her health via the app, she has become a Self-Care Ambassador as part of a pilot to encourage others to track their health. 

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