Sleep is essential to our survival. It affects almost every type of system in the body. Lack of sleep, or poor quality of sleep, can increase the risk of physical and mental health conditions, such as high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, obesity and depression. Therefore, it is crucial to make sure we have adequate and good quality sleep regularly. We provide useful tips below to support your sleep.

Science and evidence:

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke details the science of sleep. Getting enough sleep at the right times is essential to our survival. Sleep is important for brain functions and it affects almost every type of system in the body such as – brain, heart, lungs, metabolism, immune function, and mood. Lack of sleep, or poor quality of sleep, increases the risk of high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity and depression.

Several brain structures are involved in sleep – hypothalamus, brain stem, thalamus, pineal gland, the basal forebrain, and amygdala. Sleep has different stages – stage 1, stage 2, stage 3, which are called non rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, and REM stage.

There are two internal biological mechanisms that work together to regulate our sleep and awake cycle. Circadian rhythm controls timing of sleep. It fluctuates with body temperature, metabolism, hormones, and synchronizes with environmental cures such as light and temperature. Sleep-awake homeostasis reminds the body to sleep and it regulates sleep intensity. Factors that affect this homeostasis include medical conditions, medications, stress, sleep environment, food and drink, and exposure to light.

Action:

Follow these tips for adequate and good quality sleep to help your physical and emotional health, and daily life:

  1. Reduce your anxiety. Poor sleep is often a symptom of anxiety. Follow the helpful habits for reducing worry.
  2. Ensure that your bedroom is for sleeping. Remove computers, work materials, or other non-sleep activities.
  3. Make your bedroom a relaxing place. Ensure it is dark in the summer with the right temperature.
  4. Make sure you are comfortable in bed.
  5. Establish a good bedtime routine. Decide what time you want to go to bed and what time you want to get up. This is one routine that can work – bath/ shower, followed by a warm milky drink, relaxing time reading or listening to music and settling into bed.
  6. Avoid drinking too much caffeine.
  7. Avoid too much alcohol.
  8. Avoid looking at phones or other screens in bed. Blue light is known to signal to your brain to stay awake.
  9. During the day eat well, avoid too much sugar.
  10. Try to exercise regularly.
  11. Manage your wakefulness. If you have difficulties getting off to sleep or stay awake at night lying in bed for half an hour, get up and do something outside of the bedroom for half an hour. Go back to bed and try to sleep again.
  12. If you are tired in the morning after a disturbed night, do not stay in bed or sleep during the day. Stick to the routine will reset your body clock.