Falling into a sleep debt doesn’t only make you moody, but can bring on feelings of anxiety and depression, and, over time, can increase the risk of obesity, heart disease and even shorten life expectancy.
Pretty serious, we know! But the good news is, if you’re a poor sleeper, these expert tips will help you get a great night’s sleep and stay healthy.
Invest in earplugs
Marianne Davey, a snoring and sleep apnoea expert, advises: “The best earplugs will only block out 37 decibels, which can reduce the sound of minor traffic and other external sounds, but is actually not very much if you consider that snoring sound ranges from 50 to 100 decibels.
No ear plugs will block that level of noise completely – but they can help muffle it. A good fit is paramount, which can often be a problem for women with small ear canals as the plugs can stick out of the ear.
This is also uncomfortable when you are lying on them. Silicone earplugs can be quite effective, but the silicone tends to stick to your hair and pull it out. Try Mighty Ear Plugs; from R85; www.earplugsonline.co.za
Studies have shown that acupressure can be an effective way to relieve insomnia. The best pressure point for sleep is the ‘neiguan’. This can be found by placing three fingers at the base of the wrist and feeling around for the natural depression between the tendons. Apply steady pressure to help you feel more relaxed.
Combat jet lag
Moving across time zones disrupts your day-to-night sequence that can lead to sleep disruption unless you adapt your behaviour. This should start the moment you get on a plane when you should synchronise your phone and your watch to the time at your destination. If it’s time to sleep at your destination, then you need to sleep; and if it’s time to be awake, then you need to be awake. Tempting though it might be, avoid drinking alcohol on the plane because the effects of drinking – including dehydration and disrupted sleep – will be more pronounced with altitude and pressure.
Should you ever take sleeping pills?
“Short-acting sleeping tablets like zolpidem or zopiclone can be useful for short term use – for stressful periods, or to break a cycle when someone goes to bed convinced they are not going to be able to sleep,” says Dr Rosemary Leonard. “But they are never a good idea for long-term use. GPs resist prescribing them in any quantities larger than about seven tablets at a time.”
“Melatonin is also available on prescription,” says Dr Ebrahim. “Melatonin is a hormone that occurs naturally in the body, controlling the body clock. By activating certain chemical receptors in the brain, it encourages sleep.”
Improve your sleeping habits
16 Ways to improve your sleeping habits, according to Vencasa, The World Leaders in Sleep:
1. Exercise and being active during the day, helps the body rest better at night.
2. Screens or blue light, from TVs and phones, is detrimental to a good night’s sleep and should be turned off two hours before bed – unplug – use the time for ‘me-time’ instead, to relax and read or have a warm bath or shower.
3. A routine bed time is recommended.
4. Regular mealtimes encourage regular sleep patterns.
5. 18° C is the ideal temperature for a good night’s sleep.
6. Excessive heat is bad for sleep .
7. Avoid sugar, caffeine and alcohol before bed as they prevent sleep or disrupt the natural sleep patterns.
8. Lack of sleep increases appetite and promotes weight gain.
9. The less you sleep, the more likely you are to become ill.
10. People who sleep less grow older, faster.
11. Lack of sleep damages the brain.
12. Your bedroom should be a haven and sanctuary designed to promote peacefulness and sleep.
13. Remove stress from your bedroom by having a clutter-free space that is conducive to sleep.
14. Close your curtains or blinds as the darkness helps produce melatonin in the body.
15. The most influential factor in determining a rejuvenating sleep is your mattress – it must support your body and relieve pressure.
16. Your pillow is another crucial element to quality sleep as it needs to assist in aligning your spine while sleeping – choose the right pillow for your sleep position.
Still had a bad night?
Boost your energy naturally. Here’s how, according to Dr Lucy Chambers, a nutrition scientist…
- Guzzle H2O. If you haven’t had enough sleep, drink plenty of fluids as being dehydrated can increase feelings of tiredness.
- Don’t cave into cravings. We tend to feel hungrier and consume more kilojoules when sleep deprived because lack of sleep causes changes in the regulation of appetite hormones. You’re therefore more likely to lust after fatty, sweet foods such as chocolate and biscuits.
- Mindful snacking. Choose nutrient-rich snacks that release energy gradually to help keep hunger at bay and boost energy levels such as a couple of wholegrain crackers and peanut butter, a handful of unsalted nuts (for instance, six whole almonds), some vegetable crudités and hummus, or plain yoghurt and a banana.
DISCLAIMER: The testimonials presented on this website are applicable to the individuals depicted only and may not be representative of the experience of others. The information provided within this site is strictly for the purposes of information only and is not a replacement or substitute for professional advice