Tossing, turning or struggling to fall asleep? Waking up several times throughout the night for no apparent reason? Feeling exhausted even though you slept enough hours? If any of this sounds familiar, you are one of the thousands of South Africans who battle to get a good night’s sleep.
It’s obvious how important sleep is for a healthy, fully functioning body, but did you know that it’s also essential for healthy skin? During the day our skin is exposed to pollution, harmful UV rays, free radicals, harsh temperatures and air conditioning. These take their toll, not only on the appearance of the skin, but also on its health. During the night while we sleep, our bodies go into recovery mode. During this time our skin regenerates up to three times faster than during the day. The body increases blood flow to the skin while we sleep, produces collagen and decreases the body’s cortisol levels (the stress hormone known to cause breakouts). But for a lot of people, it’s not that simple to get eight hours of sleep.
Lifestyle has a direct effect on quality of sleep. Ever notice that you sleep better on the nights that you went to gym? Or that a heavy meal can leave you tossing for hours? There are various small lifestyle changes you can make to ensure better (and longer) sleep:
Reduce your exposure to blue light at night time
It’s so tempting to scroll through social media feeds when you get into bed, or to give that inbox one last check, but this can have a serious impact on your ability to fall asleep. When the body is exposed to blue light, the brain is tricked into thinking it’s day time, reducing the hormone melatonin, which is responsible for helping the body relax and go into deep sleep. Experts suggest turning off electronic devices two hours before heading to bed.
Eat a lighter meal for dinner
Have dinner as early as possible and avoid late night snacking. Heavy foods like steak, pastas and pizzas take long to digest and may keep you up at night. Stick to plenty of veggies, lean protein and minimal carbohydrates for dinner.
Limit caffeine and alcohol intake at night
Coffee stimulates the nervous system and may stop the body from relaxing naturally. Plus, it can stay elevated in the blood for over six hours, so it’s best to opt for a decaf in the afternoon and evening. Alcohol is known to increase the symptoms of sleep apnea, snoring and having a negative effect on sleeping patterns. It also alters the body’s night time melatonin production. As such, it’s best to limit your alcohol intake, especially in the hours leading up to bed time.
We don’t need to remind you how important exercise is for your health, but you may have forgotten about its impact on sleep. It’s been shown time and time again that regular exercise decreases the amount of time it takes to fall asleep, and aids a deeper and more peaceful sleep.
Set the scene
A good night’s rest requires a bedroom with minimal noise, a comfortable temperature and darkness. Optimising your bedroom could make all the difference at night. If the room is too light, invest in light-blocking curtains or blinds, ensure you have enough blankets if it’s cold, or that you’re in the position of a breeze (or air conditioning) if it’s too hot.
Relax before bed
What puts you in a sleepy mood? Having a warm bath or shower? Reading a book? Meditating? Find a relaxing activity and save it for bed time. You’ll be amazed at how much it helps the body ease into sleep.
Rule out a sleep disorder
Sometimes, despite all your best efforts, sleep still won’t come naturally. In such cases, it’s best to visit a professional to determine the cause and possible solutions. Sleep Renewal understands all the various struggles associated with lack of good sleep, and offer a variety of solutions based on your unique needs.
Sleep Renewal isn’t just for sleep disorders though. By observing your habits, they can also make suggestions based on your current lifestyle to improve your sleeping patterns and help you to get enough of the good sleep that really matters. And best of all, they’ve streamlined the process of collecting data so that you can be observed in your very own bed at home.
Find a Sleep Renewal branch near you.
This post was sponsored by Skin Renewal.