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Both sleep quality and quantity are important if we want to reap the benefits of sleep. Learn about the importance of sleep and how to sleep well every night.
Leading a healthier lifestyle isn’t just about exercising regularly and eating right — sleep quality and quantity play a big part too.
What happens when we don’t get adequate sleep? Let’s find out how sleep could impact our efforts to get healthier and learn some tricks to sleep better.
How does lack of sleep affect our health? Research suggests that when we don’t sleep enough, we’re more likely to choose fatty, sugary, high-calorie foods. We’re also more likely to overeat and overeating leads to weight gain.
To our sleep-starved brain, big meals like that upsized deep-fried chicken combo meal may seem much more appealing than a balanced meal of steamed fish, stir-fried veggies, and brown rice.
Lack of sleep could also put us off exercising. After all, it’s difficult to drag our tired bodies to the gym when we feel sluggish from lack of sleep.
So, how much sleep should we be getting? Adults should aim for seven to nine hours of sleep a night. Quality of sleep counts too! Good sleep is when we wake up refreshed and don’t feel lethargic in the afternoon.
Do you have trouble sleeping? Here are some tips to get a good night's sleep.
The importance of exercise as part of a healthy lifestyle is well documented. Regular exercise, particularly in the morning or afternoon, can impact sleep quality by raising your body temperature a few degrees. Later in the day, when your internal thermostat drops back to normal range, this can trigger feelings of drowsiness and help you sleep better. If you exercise outdoors, you will be exposed to natural light, which helps your body establish a good sleep-wake cycle.
Your mid-afternoon caffeine could affect your sleep later at night.
This doesn’t affect everyone, of course. But if you’re not sleeping well, cutting that mid-day caffeine might help.
You may also try replacing your afternoon cuppa with non-caffeinated options!
Follow a relaxing routine before going to bed. For example, take a hot shower, listen to calming music, or read a book.
The point is to separate your bedtime from other more exciting or stressful activities (e.g. watching TV, stimulating video games or loud movies) which could make it harder for you to fall asleep.
Similarly, avoid using electronic devices before bed or in bed: the light from our phones and laptop keeps us alert, and could disrupt our normal sleep patterns!
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This article was last reviewed on
Wednesday, April 28, 2021
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