How to sleep right

Sleep is the most passive thing you can do, but it’s also one of the most important. It allows both your body and mind to regenerate. Anyone who’s ever had a sleepless night and tried to function properly the next day will understand this. There has been extensive research done on the subject and understanding the basics of sleep, as natural as it may seem, will help you sleep better and function more effectively in your day-to-day life.

Why sleep is important

• It gives your body time to regenerate and strengthens your immune system.
• Cells damaged during the course of your day heal when you are asleep.
• Gives your heart and cardiovascular system time to rest.
• Improves brain functioning and memory restoration.

The best position to sleep in

Sleeping on your back is the arguably the best position to ensure a good and productive night’s sleep (Unless you suffer from specific medical conditions requiring you to sleep in a different position). When sleeping on your back, your head, neck and spine are in the best alignment possible without any pressure or curves being asserted on your back. Sleeping on your side is the next best option.

Find your sleep rhythm

It is not the time you go to bed that determines your sleep rhythm, it’s the time you wake up.

Whenever possible you should try to go to sleep and wake up at the same times every day. Now, while this is obviously impossible to do every day, the more regular your sleep pattern the better you will sleep.

While you certainly want enough sleep, you also don’t want to oversleep. It’s recommended to have anywhere between 6-11 hours sleep. This figure varies with age, with teenagers requiring more sleep and those over 65 years requiring less.

Try to avoid naps during the day, especially the long ones. If you must, power naps of no longer than 20 minutes are best.

External factors that will help you sleep better

The quality of your sleep depends a lot on what you do in the hours before you sleep.

Don’t:

• Eat a heavy meal or drink caffeine-laden drinks before retiring for the night
• Engage with computers, tablets or even your phone in the last hours before you go to sleep.
• Overindulge on alcohol late in the evening.
• Exercise too late in the evening. Allow at least a three-hour gap between exercising and sleep.

Do

• Get active – but during the day. Exercise and spending time outdoors during the day will improve the quality of your sleep.
• Darken the room and keep any pets and brightly lit clocks or tech devices out of the room when sleeping.
• Make sure your room is comfortable and the right temperature.
• Try to relax before bedtime as stress is a great destroyer of good sleep. A warm bath and a good book are great precursors to a good night’s sleep.
• Listening to some relaxing music is also a good tonic for good sleep.
• Try mindfulness meditation like the Headspace Take 10 before bed.

Getting regular good sleep can make more difference to your life than you think. Waking up refreshed and ready to tackle the day is way better than waking up grumpy and tired. Work hard and play hard if you must, but sleep properly. Sweet dreams.