Sleep is incredible. It’s a time for our bodies to rest and recuperate, an opportunity for us to take a break from the stress of the day.
Sleep is paramount to our mental and physical health, so if we’re struggling to do it, then we’re probably struggling to function properly.
But what can you do about insomnia? And what might be responsible for it?
Everybody knows the benefits of exercise. It somehow simultaneously increases your energy levels whilst also helping you sleep. And this might be the problem, since new research shows that exercising two hours or less before you go to bed can raise your heartrate and negatively impact your ability to sleep.
It can take up to three hours to recover from the physiological excitement exercise causes, which is why those who participate in high intensity interval training before bed struggle to drop off.
When you take part in this type of exercise, you are also more likely to drink water, which means you might end up waking up more to visit the toilet during the night.
But it isn’t all bad news. Certain types of exercise can actually help you sleep better. Cycling, for example, is a better exercise choice than running.
Also, if you are already fit, so if you have been working out for a while, then you’re less likely to be affected by exercising late at night.
Still, if you are struggling to sleep it is work moving your exercise time to make sure you aren’t doing it in the two hours before bed.
You might not realise that when you are stressed your body feels the tension, and a tense body struggles to fall asleep.
You absolutely must try to get rid of as much stress as you can.
Try stress-relieving techniques, such as spending time outside, meditating, and massage.
When you eat, your body immediately jumps to attention, dragging nutrients from the things you have eaten and working to digest and expel the rest.pexe
If you’re eating something that doesn’t agree with you, it goes without saying that you’re going to feel uncomfortable, which might impede your ability to sleep.
Junk food, for example, is full of sugars and fats that your body finds it difficult to digest. The closer to bed you eat these foods, the more difficult you will probably find it to fall asleep.
You should be careful about the types of food you are choosing, too. Carbohydrates, for example, make you feel sleepy, which sounds good in theory, but they can also impede the quality of sleep you have, so we don’t recommend scarfing down a pizza before bed in the hopes it might help you drift off.
The best diet for sleep is made up largely of vegetables and fruit, providing you with your recommended daily intake of vitamins and nutrients. This will not only help you with your sleep, but help you maintain a healthy weight.
You might think caffeine doesn’t impact you, but you might not realise how much it does until you give it up and get it out of your system.
Caffeine is a stimulant, and our stomachs and small intestines absorb it quickly when we consume it. It’s effects usually take 30 – 60 minutes within consumption, though this can vary. It travels through the entire body and crosses the blood-brain barrier, where it blocks adenosine receptors. That’s a sleep promoting chemical. You can see where we are going with this, can’t you? Because your brain can’t produce enough of this chemical throughout the day, you won’t be as sleepy as you would if you hadn’t drank caffeine.
Try switching to decaffeinated tea and coffee, avoid caffeinated drinks – like Coke and Pepsi – and pay careful attention to food you eat to make sure you aren’t consuming caffeine that way.
You might find you have a headache and are overly tired at first, but once you have abstained from it for long enough that it is no longer in your system, you’ll find your energy levels improved.
Do not underestimate the benefits of having a good sleeping environment. Your bedroom should be clean and tidy, and your bed should be comfortable.
If you’re struggling to fall asleep, you should certainly consider that your mattress needs replacing. It might be old and therefore uncomfortable, or made from synthetic materials, which means it isn’t breathable and therefore creates a damp and uncomfortable sleeping environment.
Consider buying a mattress made from natural materials and from a company that takes its environmental responsibility seriously.
Ely mattresses are made from wool, horse hair and cotton, and come with a thirty night sleep trial and 0% finance to spread the cost.