Guest Post by Sarah Cummings
Life is often cruelly ironic. Especially when it comes to sleep.
You see, sleep is generally seen as the single most effective thing we can do for the health of our body. Both mentally and physically. If you’re feeling in any way under the weather, be it the flu, an injury or even depression, sleep has been proven to provide relief. Yet when we suffer from something, say chronic pain, sleep is often the hardest thing to achieve.
That’s not to say we shouldn’t try, however, it may take a little effort but the benefits of regularly getting a good night’s rest are truly worth it. In fact it has been stated that there isn’t a single function or process within either the body or brain that isn’t enhanced by sleep, and impaired by the lack of it. Wow!
If you suffer from chronic pain, good quality sleep will certainly improve your ability to cope with the stresses and strains of the day. But how to get to sleep in the first place? Well, read on below and I’ll give you some tried and tested techniques.
Get outside early in the day
A healthy pre-bed routine doesn’t just start an hour before bed, it starts from the moment you wake up in the morning. Everything you do during the course of the day plays a role in how well you’ll sleep at night. One of the very best, and easiest ways to improve your odds of dropping off to sleep promptly at night is to get outside early in the morning.
You see, your body has an internal clock, a system that tells you when to wake and when to sleep. Daylight plays a very important role in regulating this clock. Getting outside early and bathing yourself in light helps to keep your clock well calibrated. Plus, getting outside and into nature is a proven mood enhancer and stress reliever. The happier and less stressed we are, the better we sleep.
Watch your caffeine intake
As we’ve already covered, everything you do during the day can help or hinder how well you sleep. For instance caffeine has a half life of six hours. Huh? What that means is it takes six hours for 50% of the caffeine to be flushed from your body. So, 25% of the caffeine in a cup of joe you drink at midday is still in your system come midnight. Shocking right? You wouldn’t drink a quarter of a cup of coffee just before bed would you. Well, you might want to start limiting your afternoon brews.
Have a good wind-down routine
If you’ve had a hard day, and let’s face it, any day with chronic pain is a hard day. It can be all to easy to simply flick on the box and veg out for a few hours in the evening. We are living in the golden years of television after all.
There’s nothing wrong with watching a bit of telly, the problems for your sleep come when you watch it right up until bedtime. Screens of all kinds, from TVs to smartphones, give off a form of bluelight that mimics daylight. This plays havoc with the body’s production of melatonin, the hormone that signals to the rest of our body that it’s time for bed.
The solution is simple, you can still watch your favourite shows but just make sure you give yourself a window of an hour between powering down all the screens in your house and laying ear on pillow. Yep, that includes your smartphone!
Make your bed a sleep sanctuary
Your bed should only ever be used for two things, sex and sleep. What it isn’t is a home cinema, an office, a dining room or somewhere to manage your social media empire.
The brain forms associations very quickly, ones that are often very hard to break. If you watch movies or reply to work emails in bed, the connection between your bed and sleep will be weakened.
Reclaim your bed for sleep (and sex) alone and you’ll soon find that not only do you find it easier to conk out but you’ll also sleep deeper, and for longer. Oh, and the better you sleep, the better your sex drive. Now that’s what I call a win-win.
So, there you have it sleep fans – the importance of sleep and a few techniques you can adopt to improve your odds of getting more of it – sleep that is. Like everything in life, improving your sleep will take time and effort, but believe it’s worth it. Everything truly is better in the morning. At least after a good night’s sleep it is. Experiment, make notes and experiment again, it’s worth getting it right.
Hi there, I’m Sarah and I have to admit something a little embarrassing, I’m in love with sleep. I adore it. It’s my hobby, it’s my passion and it’s even my job. Every day when I’m not tucked up in bed you can find me at my desk researching and writing about all things slumber. My colleagues and I at the Sleep Advisor blog truly believe that better sleep has the power to transform us all in healthier and happier humans. It worked for me, it can work for you too!
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