Sleep is incredibly important for our health and wellbeing as it allows the body to recover, recharge, and heal. Most adults need between 7-9 hours sleep, however, many of us just don’t get enough, creating disastrous effects on both our short-term and long-term health.
In addition to this, the quality of our sleep is just as important as the quantity. You’ve heard of ‘Beauty Sleep’ right? Well, there is actually some merit to this term as the hormone melatonin, produced by your body during dark, sleep hours, has anti-aging properties. Both directly and indirectly, it also has immune boosting, anticancer, infection prevention, and anti-oxidant properties that prevent cellular damage and dysfunction. Low levels of this (and related) hormones can lead to loss of muscle mass, strength, energy, skin tone, hearing, hair, etc., and also an increase in your risk of disease, including certain cancers. In a nutshell, maintaining good levels of melatonin helps you stay youthful and much healthier in general.
Melatonin production is triggered by darkness and inhibited by exposure to light. In this way, it aligns our body clock with night and day. To get the best quality sleep possible, we need to keep this in mind and consider our sleep hygiene habits.
Here are my top tips for good sleep hygiene and optimal melatonin production:
Ensure your bedroom is dark and also free from electronic sources of light (including alarm clock displays, TVs and other devices)
If you get up in the night, use a small torch rather than turning on the light to prevent a decline in melatonin production, which also causes difficulty falling back to sleep
Go to bed and get up at the same time each day to regulate your body clock
Have a pre-sleep routine to relax your body and prepare it for sleep (bath, gentle stretching, meditation, reading, herbal tea, etc.)
Avoid stress, work, stimulating activities, news programs, emotional issues, etc. before bed
Avoid stimulants such as caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol before bed
Avoid heavy meals 2 hours before bed
Sleep may seem like something that you just cram into your busy life at the end of a long day, but making it more of a priority, along with elements of proper diet and exercise, will ensure you are investing in both your short-term and long-term health and wellbeing.
If you need help improving the quality of your sleep, book in for a consultation with Belinda.
Photo credit: Boba Jovanovic on Unsplash