The Importance Of Getting A Good Night's Sleep

11/03/2024, LYMA

More and more of us are complaining of difficulty sleeping. It is recommended that we gain between seven and nine hours a night, but research shows that only one in three people are actually reaching those numbers and they’re surviving on much less.

Our collective lack of sleep is leading to inflammation, weight-gain, lowered immunity and a whole host of health problems. So what can we do to get a better night’s sleep?

Dr Lindsay Browning is a chartered psychologist, neuroscientist, author of Navigating Sleeplessness and sleep expert. She recently ran an event for LYMA Members on ways they can improve their bedtime hours, after the event they spoke to her about the ways to step up your sleep hygiene, from changing what you're drinking to the way your bed is set up.

What is 'sleep hygiene'?

Sleep hygiene generally means basic good behaviours that can help to improve sleep at night. General good sleep hygiene advice includes things such as reducing caffeine near to bedtime, using your bed for sleep and sex only, plus having a wind down time before bed.

Making some small changes like these can improve a short term sleeping problem, or improve the quality of someone’s sleep.

Hydrating at bedtime

If you go to bed thirsty or you awake during the night and you are dehydrated then you will find it hard to sleep. However, if you drink large quantities of water before going to bed then of course you will wake up desperate for the toilet.

As we age, we tend to wake up once per night to go to the toilet, and this is often nothing to worry about. As long as you get back to sleep relatively quickly it isn’t a problem. You should speak to your GP, however, if you are going to the toilet more frequently than that during the night or if you need to urinate in the daytime more frequently than you used to.

Warm drinks before bed

A hot milky drink before bed is an excellent plan because the warm drink helps to promote sleep and also milk contains tryptophan which is a precursor of melatonin.

If you drink caffeine near to bed time that will disrupt sleep because you will be too alert and not feel sleepy enough to go to sleep.

It is worth remembering that it is not only tea and coffee that contain caffeine, but also so does chocolate. A hot chocolate before bed it’s not a great plan to induce sleep as the caffeine will interfere with sleep.

When should we stop eating before bed?

Spicy and fatty foods should be avoided near to bedtime because they can cause indigestion making sleep harder. Foods that are high in tryptophan are beneficial before sleep - these include foods such as milk, chicken, turkey, salmon and nuts.

You should try to avoid eating your main evening meal too near to bedtime, but a small snack before bed can be helpful to give you slow release energy through the night.

Exercise and sleep

Typically, evening exercise can raise our body temperature and our heart rate making the sleep more difficult soon after exercise and so should be avoided if sleep is a problem.

The truth about avoiding screens

Generally, the advice to avoid screens before bed is for two main reasons. Firstly, the bright light from LED devices can disrupt our ability to produce melatonin because our body sees the bright light and thinks that it is still daytime. In order to minimise this problem you can enable “night mode” on your phone or tablet which will reduce the blue light frequency which is most detrimental to sleep.

Secondly, when we use screens near to bedtime it can cause us to be so distracted by scrolling though social media that we forget to go to bed. Also, when using phones before bed we may see work emails come in or receive upsetting texts from friends which can cause us to become increasingly stressed or anxious, which then in turn will disrupt our sleep. Wearing blue light goggles in the evening can help to reduce the blue light issue but it will not stop with the second problem.

How to set up your bed for a good night sleep

You should choose your mattress based on your sleeping style and weight. Generally speaking, a heavier person will need a firmer mattress compared to a lighter person. The number of pillows you choose will also depend on your sleeping style. You should sleep so that your spine and neck remain in a neutral position during the night. Back sleepers may need fewer pillows than a side sleeper to keep their head at the right angle through the night. It is a good idea to choose a mattress and pillows by physically trying them out in a shop, so that you can get the right comfort level for your body shape and sleeping style.

How to set up your bedside table

If you have a calm and clutter-free bedroom that will help with sleep because you are not bombarded with stimuli as you try to fall asleep. Using a bedside soft-light lamp will give dim lighting which will help with sleep as opposed to using a bright overhead light in the bedroom.

Is it a good idea to track sleep data?

Sometimes tracking your sleep data can show up an issue that you were previously unaware of, such as sleep apnoea. Also, tracking your sleep can help encourage you to prioritise your sleep if you are going to bed too late and not getting enough sleep each night. However, when people start to struggle to sleep and decide to use sleep data to reinforce their belief that their sleep is very poor this can simply perpetuate the sleep problem - making the person more and more anxious about their sleep. There is something called orthosomnia, which is insomnia brought on by the obsession with trying to get the perfect night’s sleep - fuelled by sleep tracking data.

How to improve an already good night's sleep

The three main pillars of good health are nutrition, exercise and sleep. If you’re sleeping sufficiently - and for a working age adult that would be ideally mean getting between seven and nine hours sleep per night - then it is a good idea to make sure that you are also taking your nutrition and exercise seriously. In this way you can maximise living a healthy and happy life.

If this blog has got you interested in starting your wellness journey call our wellness advisors at 020 7843 3597 or enquire here.

About The Author
LYMA has changed the way the world looks at wellness. It has launched two wellness products which have redefined wellness categories. The LYMA Laser is the world’s most powerful at home near infrared laser skincare device. The LYMA Supplement is the first to only use peer-reviewed, patented ingredients, each dosed at proven levels.  Formulated by the leading authority in preventative, degenerative disease, Dr. Paul Clayton PhD, LYMA is more than a vitamin pill, it’s the ultimate antidote to the stress of modern life.

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