Tuesday, September 27, 2022

‘Making sure we have a routine we do daily before we go to bed is a largely underrated factor when looking to improve sleep’ 

A RECENT topic between myself and a client this week. Something I repeatedly try to drive home to clients is the importance of sleep with regard to our health. In previous articles I have spoken about sleep, its effect on our overall health and how we can get more. In this article I look to do a bit of both! Below I hope to highlight the processes involved, the benefits and how we can try to get a little more! 

Sleep acts as a physiological behaviour in all animal species as it functions as an essential factor for survival whereby the research has shown us that prolonged sleep deprivation can result in many negative health effects, such as cognitive loss, and even death. Sleep can be deciphered from hibernation, coma, and death simply by the fact that it can be more or less instantly reversed. 

We can break sleep down into four phases. These phases will all occur during a complete sleep cycle, which amounts to roughly 90 minutes. Each phase has its own function and is guaranteed to occur within each full sleep cycle. These phases can be broken into falling asleep (N1), light sleep (N2), rapid eye movement (REM) sleep (R) and deep sleep (N3). 

When looking for an optimal duration of sleep we can aim for a minimum of seven hours. The range I would recommend would be seven to nine hours sleep daily. Avoiding times below and above this guideline will aid greatly when looking to get the most from our sleep in terms of health promotion, recovery, brain function, etc. So how do we do this you might be asking! Below, I will outline some strategies that I have obtained from the work of sleep experts, which you can put in place to help improve your sleep. 

So how can we get more, I hear you asking… The good news is there is plenty that we can be actively doing to make sure we are giving ourselves the best opportunity to get an adequate level of sleep. I will outline some things we can start trying right now! 

Night-time routine 

In my experience this one is key; making sure we have a routine we do daily before we go to bed is a largely underrated factor when looking to improve sleep. Incorporate a certain amount of time before bed (ideally at the same time each evening) into your routine. An example of this could be brushing our teeth, followed by 10-15 minutes guided meditation/ yoga and 20/30 minutes of reading. Setting a time for lights out and giving ourselves an eight-hour window before our morning alarm will give us the best opportunity to hit our sleep target here.  

We can set a daily reminder on our phone to help keep ourselves accountable here and reap the benefits this will have on our sleep! Aiming to set an alarm for the same time every morning will help largely here also with regard to our body clock as our body will start to adapt to sleeping and waking at the same times naturally each day. 

Caffeine/Nicotine Cut-off 

Caffeine and nicotine can also come into play largely here. Adenosine is an important sleep inducing chemical found in the brain. Caffeine, which is a stimulant found most commonly in coffee and energy drinks, temporarily blocks the signals from this chemical, therefore negatively impacting our sleep quality. Nicotine, which can be found in cigarettes, has a similar effect here also. Cutting out caffeine roughly eight hours before bed can help here; this allows caffeine to be filtered out of our bloodstream by the time we choose to go to bed. Limiting any nicotine consumption will also help here. 

These are just some brief guidelines I would recommend to anyone looking to improve their sleep quality, other factors you could also include here might be; getting more sunlight, leaving phones and devices on the opposite side of your bed, while also maybe asking your doctor about your medication schedule, if any. 

“I love sleep. My life has the tendency to fall apart when I’m awake, you know?” – Ernest Hemingway 

 Lastly, I would also like to clarify that I am not a registered dietician. All advice disclosed here is simply advisory based on my qualifications as a fitness professional and personal experience and knowledge gained working with individuals and helping them reach their goals. The advice given is not designed to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any health problem – nor is it intended to replace the advice of a physician. Always consult your physician or qualified health professional on any matters regarding your health. 

I hope someone out there found some of this information useful here, just some food for thought.  

For any questions in relation to this topic or training, nutrition, etc. or for coaching inquiries simply message me on my business page on instagram @coachedbycashel_ or by email – [email protected] 

Comments are closed.

By Cashel Hayden
Contact Newsdesk: 051 874951

More Well!

#YourFitness: Two reasons to exercise more!

More by this Journalist