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How to make a good nights sleep a habit


I wake up (stupid) early.

I have always been a morning person. Even as a teenager 7.00am would be a lay in for me. Up until a couple of years ago I would always be awake by 6.00am. Then for some reason I started waking up around 4.00am. During the process of trying to rectify my sleep schedule I ended up learning quite a lot about sleep. My sleep has improved now, although I still wake up on the early side.

The importance of sleep.

The National Sleep Foundation says that an adult from 18 to 64 should get 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night. Not getting enough sleep can cause increased blood pressure, blood glucose issues and a higher risk of heart disease. People suffering from insomnia are also more likely to develop anxiety and depression. Sleep deprivation has even been used as a form of torture in the past.

Technology

Your smartphone and tablet emits “blue light. Blue light suppresses the sleep hormone melatonin which keeps you awake. (This is why you can stay up all night watching movies or playing video games.
Get in to the habit of turning off all screens 1 hour before you go to bed. Spend that time reading an old fashioned book, meditating, or even – shock horror – talking to your partner!

Exercise

Exercising will improve your sleep. The Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine published a study that found that people who have an active lifestyle get 45 minutes more sleep every night.
Learn how to find time to exercise.

Caffeine

Tea and coffee contain a stimulant called caffeine which keeps people awake. Caffeine can take up to 6 hours to get out of your system. Set a reminder to have your last cup of coffee before 2.00pm.
Peoples energy levels typically drop between noon and 3.00pm. Find a way to give yourself a boost without a cup of coffee. Going for a brisk 10 minute walk outside is a great way to wake yourself up.

Bedtime Routine

One of the pieces of advise I was given as a new parent was to develop a bedtime routine for your baby so it knows when it is time to go to sleep. It turns out this is also great advise for adults. Follow the same 20 minute routine before you go to bed. Turn off any screens. Have a warm drink. Read a little. Once you have followed this routine a few times your brain will start the shutdown process automatically and you will start falling asleep more quickly. You will also find you have a more restful nights sleep.

Last thoughts

Pick a standard bedtime and try to go to bed at that time every night (including weekends.) If you go to bed at 10.00pm from Monday to Friday and stay up to midnight on Saturday and Sunday, your brain is going to have a hard time going to sleep at 10.00pm. Start your own bedtime routine and enjoy the benefits of a good nights sleep.

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