Improve Your Quality Of Sleep And Have A Good Night (How To Fix Sleep Schedule)

by Zara Mohammed, Health Columnist


Published in Health on 10th April, 2019


Have you been feeling a bit foggy lately and are looking for some ideas to help improve your quality of sleep? Not getting enough sleep can affect you in more ways than you may realise!

We all know that if we don't allow our bodies the rest it needs and get enough hours sleep in, that the following day we can find ourselves feeling tired and functioning a little slower, but did you know that poor sleep can actually cause you to gain weight too? I bet that woke you up - Nobody wants to worry about weight gain!

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Keep reading to find out about more surprising effects that are caused by a lack of sleep, and discover some ideas to help you make sure that you are giving your body the best quality sleep possible.

Watch Out For These 5 Negative Effects Caused By Lack Of Sleep

Sleepiness can kill you

Sleep deprivation is a major public safety hazard, especially on the road. Did you know that feeling drowsy can slow down your reaction time as much as if you were drunk driving?

Lack of sleep lowers your intelligence

Sleep plays an extremely significant part in your ability to think and to learn. If you don't get enough of it your attention span and alertness will be affected, along with being able to concentrate, being able to reason, and being able to solve problems. All of these lead to your learning being seriously impaired.

Sleep deprivation will make you perform badly during sex

It's pretty obvious when you think about it; if you haven't had enough sleep then your energy levels are going to be lower, but not only will lack of sleep make you feel sleepy, it will in fact lower your libido so tat you may not even want to have sex.

Not getting enough sleep will make you look older

Your face will of course look more drawn because you are tired, but more alarmingly, a chronic loss of sleep will actually age your skin, creating dark circles under your eyes and fine lines. When you deprive yourself of the sleep that you need, your body produces more cortisol, which is a stress hormone.

Too much of this will break down your skin collagen, which is what gives it its elasticity and allows it to remain looking young and smooth for longer. If you are not getting enough sleep then you body may also not be producing enough human growth hormone, which helps to thicken your skin and bones.

Losing sleep will make you fatter

When you are not getting enough sleep your hunger and appetite will increase, making you eat much more and be susceptible to obesity. In 2004 a study showed that people who slept less than 6 hours as opposed to 7 to 9 hours a day were 30% more likely to become obese.

This is because not only does lack of sleep make you hungry, it also makes you hungry for the kinds of food that are going to make you gain weight fast, like high fat and high carb foods.

5 Tips to help you Improve Your Quality of Sleep

It is important that you get the correct amount of hours sleep, but the quality of the sleep you get is just as important. Here are some tips to help you make sure that you sleep like a baby.

Create a Sleep Schedule

Your circadian rhythm is your body's internal clock. This is a natural system that helps you to regulate your sleep by causing you to feel sleepy or wakeful.

It is a system, which is naturally controlled by light, and this is what makes it difficult for our bodies to maintain sleep and waking regularity because of the ways in which we are able to control the light we use when we are awake and asleep.

sleep schedule

Often our bodies don't recognise the times it is meant to be resting or active. You can help your internal body clock by doing the following things.

  • Decide on a bedtime and a waking time, and be consistent. Your body will fall into a rhythm, which will make it easier for you to fall asleep at night and rise and shine in the morning. The more you practice going t sleep and waking u at the same times every day, the more your body will adapt to making you start feeling sleepy and wakeful at the right times.
  • Go for a morning walk. You don't have to go on a long hike, but a quick stroll in the morning light will send a signal to your brain that it is time to start your day. If you don't have time to walk in the mornings make sure you open all of your curtains or blinds wide to let as much light into your house as you get ready as possible, or alternatively if it is dark, switch on the brightest lights in your house.
  • Limit screen-time in the evenings. If you spend time looking at your computer screen, your mobile or the television before you go to bed you will confuse your brain because you are exposing it to bright artificial blue light which gives your body clock the wrong message as it mimics daytime light. If you must look at a screen before bed-time, for example if you like to read on your mobile before sleeping, there are special apps that change the light of your screen to a warmer light which will make it easier for you to fall asleep when you are done reading.

Watch what you eat and drink in the evening

Steer clear of drinks like tea and coffee that contain caffeine, which is of course a stimulant. Avoid eating or drinking chocolate too as it contains a lot of sugar, which is sure to wake you up and give you energy, and not make you sleepy.

Also be aware that some painkillers can have a similar effect. Try not to consume alcohol 2-3 hours before you go to sleep, as it is sure to wake you up in the middle of the night. If you need to eat something before you go to sleep go ahead because hunger pangs will wake you up in the night, but try not to eat large quantities before bed because digesting too much food will lead to a restless sleep.

Tricks to control tossing and turning in bed

If you find that you are restless in your sleep, and when you wake you feel as though you have been up half the night tossing and turning, there are a few things you can do to help relax you before bed.

  • Turn your clock away from you. If you are finding it difficult to fall asleep you may end up constantly opening your eyes to check your clock. This causes an increase in cortisol the stress hormone, which makes it even more difficult for you to fall asleep. The best thing to prevent this is to turn your clock around so that you are not thinking of staring at it.
  • Get up and do something. If after about 20 minutes you still aren't able to fall asleep, the best thing to do is actually get up out of bed and take up a simple and repetitive activity, or a relaxing one, such as folding laundry or knitting.
  • Write in your journal. Often the reason we find it difficult to fall asleep is that we are either worried about something or we just have too many thoughts or ideas running through our minds. The only thing you can do is to remove these things from your head by writing the all down on paper. Once you have written your thoughts a journal they won't be in your head anymore, you will have created some space, and you should feel more relaxed and be able to fall asleep.

Get more exercise

Whenever you feel restless or fidgety, or have nervous or anxious energy, it can be difficult to sleep. Make sure that you get enough physical exercise everyday to release tension in your body, and you will be able to sleep more soundly at night.

get more exercise

It doesn't matter when you exercise, how you exercise, or how much you exercise, just so long as you are incorporating some physical activity into your day you should find your quality of sleep improves.

To increase or ensure sufficient daily activity you can try walking to the next bus stop or getting off one or two stops early. You can walk up and down stairs instead of using lifts or escalators. You can pick up your walking pace to get your heart pumping, or even have a boogie in your living room to your favourite music!

Assess your mattress and pillows

Sometimes the quality of your sleep could be severely affected by what you are sleeping on. Something as simple as changing the type of pillow you use or flipping your mattress could change the way you sleep entirely.

Remember, your mattress should feel comfortable and be supportive. If your mattress is old, it may well have exceeded its life expectancy. Mattresses are usually good for about 10 years. A good night's sleep might mean having to fork out for a new one if you have had yours for longer, or if you purchased it second hand.

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