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How to Sleep Better - Infographic

By Ellie B. Graphic Designer  Tuesday 22nd December, 2015
How to Sleep Better - Infographic

How to sleep better

Many people underestimate the importance of getting enough sleep. In fact, it is estimated that 1 in 5 of us survive on six hours sleep or less each night. The infographic above shows how important sleep is to a healthy lifestyle, and provides advice and tips to help you get the best night's sleep, including natural remedies to help.
 

How much sleep do we need?

Consistently getting insufficient sleep will seriously impact your health, increasing the risk of weight gain, type 2 diabetes and heart disease, to name just a few. Plus, when you suffer from lack of sleep, you perform like you are legally drunk, so it’s crucial to ensure you get an adequate amount.

Infants and young children require more sleep to support early physical and mental development, which can be as much as 17 hours per day. In adults, sleep needs vary from person to person, but most adults function best with 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. Adults over the 65 may find that they can get by on less. As a general rule of thumb, if you wake feeling refreshed, you’re probably getting enough sleep.


Causes of a bad night’s sleep

Many different factors can interfere with sleep. The tendency to eat heavy, rich meals late in the evening means that many of us are still digesting food when we head up to bed, increasing the risk of heartburn. However, going to bed hungry can also interfere with sleep, so aim for a healthy, balanced diet. Caffeine and alcohol can disrupt sleep and should be avoided after 3 pm.

The increasing use of technology also has an impact on the quality of our sleep. Almost all millennials go to sleep with their phones next to the bed and spend a couple of hours before sleep reading from the luminous displays. One study has found that the light emitted from smartphones and tablets can suppress the body’s production of melatonin by as much as 22%.  Melatonin is the body’s night-time messenger, low levels of which can interfere with our natural body clock.
 

Tips for a good night’s sleep

The first step to improving sleep is to ensure your environment is relaxing. Sleep in a cool room, shut out all light, and turn off any electronic devices you use during the day. Try to establish a good bedtime routine that includes spending a couple of hours winding down away from technology. A warm bath, meditation or a good book can help.

Eat light evening meals that are easier for the body to digest and go for a gentle walk to get the digestive system moving. Regular exercise benefits health in so many ways. Aside from the obvious benefit of using energy, it also helps to relieve stress and tension from the body, which has a beneficial knock-on effect for sleep.
 

Natural remedies for sleep

Valerian: One of the most popular and time-tested herbs for sleep is Valerian, which has been found to improve sleep quality and improve the speed of falling asleep. Studies show that taking valerian supplements for 28 days greatly improves sleep. Plus, this herb is safe and gentle, and unlike many prescription sleeping pills, valerian doesn’t have side effects such as grogginess. 
 

5-hydroxytryptophan (5HTP): 5HTP is converted directly into serotonin in the brain, which helps to promote deeper sleep. Dosages between 200mg to 400mg appear to be effective at replenishing serotine levels, but 5HTP supplements will take a few weeks for benefits to be experienced.
 

Calcium and magnesium:  Magnesium is often referred to as ‘nature’s tranquilliser’ due to the important role it plays in proper hydration, muscle relaxation and the deactivation of adrenaline. It is thought to be even more effective when taken in combination with calcium. Take 600mg of calcium and 200mg of magnesium each night before bed to calm the nerves and relax the muscles.
 

Lavender: Add a few drops of lavender oil under your pillow to relieve any stress and anxiety, sleep soundly and feel more energetic the following morning. Lavender oil works by inducing slow wave sleep - the deep sleep during which the heartbeat slows and muscles relax. 

 

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