The Sleep Council p13_hands-heart_lo-res-300x213 Top Tip To Better Health – Sleep!  I came across a great article in the newspaper today giving 20 tips on how to extend your life expectancy.

There was everything from ‘shopping till you drop’ and ‘exercising with your mates’ to ‘don’t blow your top’ and ‘floss your teeth’ – all really great tips.

However there was one tip missing: if you want to protect your health – physical and mental – you need to make sure you catch some zzz’s.

Yes, getting a good night’s sleep is one of the most basic steps in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

A growing body of research, from all over the world, confirms that a comfortable uninterrupted seven or eight hours sleep each night can relieve stress, slow down the ageing process, boost your mood, your physical and mental performance and cure a wide range of aches and pains.

Lack of sleep also diminishes levels of concentration and makes you liable to swings in temper and depression. Sleep affects our learning and problem solving capabilities. The more REM sleep we have, the easier it is to retain things that were learned the day before. Problems that appear insoluble can become clear in the morning. Long term sleep deprivation is linked to heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s, diabetes and obesity.

We understand that it’s not always that easy for people to start sleeping better – some would clearly love to, but don’t know how to. There are some simple changes you can make to your lifestyle to help achieve a better night’s sleep.

Regular hours: Keeping regular hours and going to bed and getting up at roughly the same time every day. This will help to programme the body to sleep better.

Routine: A bedtime routine works as well for adults as it does children. It’s important to wind down properly before bed – invest in some ‘me time’ and switch off gadgets. Think about changing the way you wind down at bedtime – experiment with new ways to relax like warm baths with calming scents, quiet soothing music, reading, gentle stretching and yoga.

Restful environment: Your bedroom should be kept for rest and sleep and it should be neither too hot, nor too cold; and as quiet and dark as possible. Make sure the room is gadget free and your bed is comfortable. It’s difficult to get deep, restful sleep on one that’s too soft, too hard, too small or too old. For more information visit here.

Don’t forget to also look at overhauling your diet, caffeine consumption and exercise regime.  Small changes can have a huge impact on your sleep quality and quantity.  You can also keep a track of your lifestyle and sleep habits by completing a sleep diary. Download here.

If you suffer with insomnia or any other sleep disorder though, it’s essential you seek appropriate medical help.

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