6 hours 19mins is the average UK sleep time per night despite the extensive research of the benefits for both health and wellbeing of getting the full 8 hours.
Stress, busy lives, hectic work schedules and for you the added care of your beloved furry friends and/or competing sleep has taken a back seat on the priorities list.
We all know that when we wake up from a good night’s sleep you feel rested, energised, in a far better mood and have a lot more productive/successful day. So below I have highlighted 7 areas we can work on to improve our sleep.
When think about it 6-8 hours is a long time to be in one place – sitting down all day we know the benefits of better quality/designed chair but what about our beds?
Something as simple as changing your mattress can dramatically improve your sleep quality, prevent back issues and improve your energy levels, posture, productivity and mood.
Our bedroom should be viewed as a relaxing place, try avoid doing work in your room and try avoiding TV/laptops/phones at least one hour before bed to help your body switch off from the day and prepare for sleep.
Switching off electronic devices is also a great routine to help you spend quality time with your loved ones/reading and planning ahead for tomorrow.
Using this hour before bed to plan and prepare i.e. getting lunch organised, clothes out and scheduling your diary can help you sleep more restfully – writing down your thoughts/anything you need to remember for tomorrow so you can go to bed without a million and one thoughts/ideas rushing around your head.
We all know the benefits of exercise to our fitness/health but exercising as little as 20minutes a day is shown to dramatically improve your sleep quality.
I have designed a series of short workouts/mobility workouts available for a small monthly cost over at my Facebook page – with regular updates to exercises and helpful tips and advice, perfect for those looking to improve their riding fitness/performance without the hefty pricetag!
A healthy balanced diet is key to optimal functioning of your body as you are literally what you eat! Poor diet and being overweight increases your risk of sleep apnoea and snoring, similarly rapid weight loss/being underweight can cause insomnia – your body is in starvation mode and is telling you, you need to eat preventing you falling/staying asleep.
The size/make up of your evening meal can also have an impact and eating at least 2/3 hours before bed is shown as optimal to allow for digestion before bedtime.
If you would like some help creating your own personal nutrition plan to maximise your performance and sleep please do get in touch (email@example.com).
Caffeine & Cigarettes
Coffee, tea and energy drinks are well known for increasing our energy levels through their caffeine content – stimulating your nervous system to keep you alert. What is less well-known is that headache tablets, diet pills and chocolate also contain caffeine.
Caffeine effects vary from person to person but effects can last as long as 15 hours depending on the dose and person. We shouldn’t be reliant on coffee/tea/energy drinks but 1/2 per day if you enjoy it and coffee particularly does have its benefits and I personally enjoy a coffee in the morning but know if I have a coffee later than 1pm or chocolate before bed I will find it harder to fall asleep.
A surprising stimulant for many is that of nicotine. We are all aware of the negative impact smoking has on our health but nicotine also is a stimulant on our nervous system which can make it harder to fall asleep especially when smoking late on in the day.
Whilst after a night out you may find you don’t find it difficult to fall asleep the quality of your sleep is dramatically affected and should never be used to help you get to sleep.
Alcohol causes dehydration and going 8 hours without alcohol is dehydrating enough so you may find you wake early after drinking/have disturbed sleep as our body needs water in order to function and so as a survival mechanism will wake you in order to get that water.
This is not to say never drink alcohol just when having a glass or two in the week try and limit to 4 hours before bedtime and be aware of the effects – drink water between glasses to help limit the effects of dehydration.
Stress isn’t all bad and stress is useful to help us adapt and change. However, with our ever increasingly demanding lifestyles/hectic work life we leave little time to rest, relax and recover.
It is common for people to wake in the night thinking about work/life stresses or difficultly falling asleep with money worries, family problems, is my horse going to be warm enough!
This is where as mentioned in sleep environment – thinking of your bedroom as your sanctuary and taking that time before bed to plan/prepare for tomorrow and get your thoughts written down can really help reduce stress and enable you to sleep better.
Creating a routine is so important and as we as humans function best. Just like our horses like a regular routine and you turning up late to feed/bring in can cause stress to them – creating a routine for you helps relax/de-stress and proven to improve productivity.
Our lives may be busy/hectic but how much of our time is actually spent productively? It wasn’t until the iPhone update until a lot of people (myself included) realised how much time we spend on our phones, on social media/internet browsing.
Sundays are my day to plan the week – obviously life is never perfect/runs to plan 100% of the time but scheduling exercise/downtime/seeing friends around work/commitments enables to get feel less stressed/anxious and I am far more productive with my time, knowing what needs to be done each day and as a result sleep better.
For myself and my clients devising a rough weekly plan and taking a little time before bed to jot down thoughts/ideas and prepping for the next day has had a huge impact on not only the quality of our sleep but getting close/on that 8 hour sleep target.
Life is busy we just need to learn how to prioritise and find the best routine for you.
I hope this has been useful for you and please do share this with friends/family/work colleagues to help them get a better sleep too.
Make it your priority this week to employ one tip and make it your mission to stick to it for a month and see the difference in your mood, energy and productivity!
Hope you all have a fab week and please let me know if you have any questions or want any more information/help on the above (firstname.lastname@example.org)