Top 10 “Sleep More” SMART resolutions
Surveys reveal that approximately 30% of Western Europeans report sleep problems. Sleep plays a vital role in good health and well-being throughout life. Getting enough quality sleep at the right times can help protect mental health, physical health, quality of life, and safety. In a nutshell, the quality and length of your sleep determine the quality and length of your life!
- Consider food for better sleep (see blog 1/4 "Keep calm and eat healthy"). Aim for normal small-ish meals combining protein, carbohydrates and lipids in the evening a few hours before bed.
- Consider drink for better sleep (see blog 1/4 "Keep calm and eat healthy"). Limit alcohol, caffeine and excessive water 2-3 hours before bedtime.
- Keep Calm and exercise more (see blog 2/4)): It has been found that people sleep significantly better and feel more alert during the day if they get at least 150 minutes of exercise a week. Recommendations on the right time to exercise vary from source to source. The University of Maryland Medical Center recommends avoiding strenuous exercise two hours before sleep.
- Plan ahead and fix a time to go to bed. Plan your day backwards to meet your time. Aim for a regular schedule and 7-9 hours. Keeping a regular sleep schedule—even on weekends—maintains the timing of the body's internal clock and can help you fall asleep and wake up more easily. Even if real life stands in the way of achieving the perfect sleep routine, making just a few small changes can improve your sleep dramatically.
- Turn screens off 2 hours before bed! Consistent research has shown that using screens - including eReader, laptop, smartphone and certain TVs - before bed can be detrimental to sleep. The bluelight from screens in the evening alters sleepiness and alertness and suppresses melatonin levels and according to new research, also impacts how sleepy, alert and productive we are the next day.
- Read real paper. Read an actual, printed book if you must stimulate your mind before bed, thereby avoiding screens (point 5 above).
- Use paper to do a brain dump. A before bed brain dump can be a great way to clear your head and still make sure your thoughts are processed before sleep. Write down a few short phrases or words on paper so they are out of your head and more tangible to revisit the next day.
- De-Clutter the bedroom. Your bedroom should be where you recharge your batteries for the next day. What you’re thinking when you nod off affects how you sleep and your mood when you wake up. So, if your last mental image is of chaos and clutter, you’re not setting the right stage for quality sleep. De-cluttering and adopting a mind-set to keep your space harmonious and clutter-free are simple steps that can make a big difference.
- Practice relaxation and breathing exercises before bed. Techniques to calm an overactive mind and unwind from a busy day can be an effective way to overcome sleep problems. Breathing strongly influences physiology and thought processes, including moods and by simply focusing your attention on your breathing and without doing anything to change it, relaxation can improve.
- Take regular outdoor breaks during the day, aiming for at least 30 minutes exposure. Outdoor breaks can help you sleep better at night since sunlight affects circadian rhythm which has a lot to do with sleep quality. It has further been discovered that exposure to bright light during the day can positively affect mood and alertness.