Disrupted sleep patterns can disrupt your day and lead to problems with your health. To combat irregular sleeping patterns, we can make a number of changes to our daily routines and also to our sleeping quarters.
The health risks involved with sleeping problems are more serious than many people commonly realise or acknowledge. The immune system requires around six to seven hours of sleep per night in order to function properly in most people. The stresses and demands of a hectic modern lifestyle and the pressures of long working hours mean many people simply do not get enough sleep and thus increase their vulnerability to illness and disease.
Sleep allows the heart rate to slow down for a longer period than at any other time of day and blood pressure drops. A lack of sleep deprives the heart of this vital rest and can easily lead to high blood pressure developing. The body also needs sleep in order to regulate cholesterol and sugar levels.
Other health benefits of a regular sleeping pattern of seven to eight hours per night include reduced stress levels, cell production and repair and an improvement of memory and alertness.
To make sure your body has the best chance of getting a good night’s sleep every night, try not to vary your sleeping and waking times by more than an hour. Not eating or drinking much within an hour of heading to bed will also help to prevent your sleep being disturbed by a need to go to the toilet.
Your sleeping position can have a big effect on the quality of sleep you receive. Ideally, the body needs to be kept in a ‘mid-line’ position, with your head and neck kept straight. Sleeping on one side or on your back is recommended for healthy sleep, whereas sleeping on your stomach will cause aches and pains.
The varying quality and wear and tear of pillows and mattresses can also affect sleeping positions. Mattresses should be turned over every few months and replaced after five to seven years of nightly use.
The style and design of beds can affect sleep but this largely comes down to personal preference. Some people find a raised bed will give them a better sleep, whereas some people sleep more soundly on a divan. Headboards can provide comfort and help to reduce the risk of disturbing sleep by bumping your head against the wall.
Keeping your bedroom dark is important in achieving a restful sleep. The body’s cycle of wakefulness and sleep is known as the circadian rhythm and exposure to light can disrupt this cycle.
Finally, consider the amount of exercise you are getting through the day when trying to improve your sleep. A body that has undergone little exertion through the day requires little rest and repair. Take a minimum of half an hour’s strenuous exercise a day to help yourself drift off easily at night.