Still awake?

Of course you are. You haven’t had a proper night’s sleep in days, weeks, maybe months. You’re not alone.

Estimates say as many as 16 million people in the UK suffer from sleeplessness and a third have insomnia. Sleep deprivation can contribute to irritability, low mood and depression, impaired memory, high blood pressure and diabetes – not to mention a feeling of never quite feeling ‘yourself’.

At The PT Centre, we’re big on sleep. Getting enough zzzz’sis a huge factor in determining how you feel, how you act and how you look – directly affecting your mental and physical health. Fall short and it can take a serious toll on your daytime energy, productivity, emotional balance, and even your weight.

Yet many of us regularly toss and turn at night, struggling to get the sleep we need.

Getting a good night’s sleep may seem like an impossible goal when you’re wide awake at 3 a.m., but you have much more control over the quality of your sleep than you probably realize. Just as the way you feel during your waking hours often hinges on how well you sleep at night, so the cure for sleep difficulties can often be found in your daily routine.

So, what can you do to help yourself get a better night’s sleep?

Try to go to sleep and get up at the same time every day.

Our natural sleep and wake time is called the circadian rhythm. Physical, mental and behavioural changes which follow a daily cycle. This responds naturally to light and darkness. Disturbing to your circadian rhythm can put your whole day/week out of sync.

Avoid bright screens within 1-2 hours of your bedtime. 
The blue light emitted by your phone, computer, or TV is especially disruptive as it blocks melatonin, the hormone that helps you feel sleepy. You ought to reduce your screen time as much as you can prior to hitting the sheets. Seems simple enough but can be a real challenge if you want to keep up with your online life – but what’s more valuable in the long run? Scrolling through Instagram or resetting your body and minding?

Focus on a heart-healthy and balanced diet. 
It’s your overall eating patterns and specific foods that can make the biggest difference to your quality of sleep, as well as your overall health. Eating a balanced diet rich in proteins, vegetables, fruit, and healthy fats—may help you to fall asleep faster and stay asleep for longer.

Turn out the lights and listen to your body.
Turn out the lights, get a black-out curtain, use a eye mask, etc – there are plenty of small, practical changes you can make that will set you up for a good night’s sleep. If you really want to make a change, think about ditching the late-night TV for a book or perhaps listen to music. You’ll be so surprised how much of a difference this makes.

There you have it – some basic but hugely important changes that can really aid your sleep pattern and the ability for you to drift off to the land of nod with ease (or at least much easier than you do now!).