Sleep is just as important for our wellbeing as eating well and exercising – too little or too much, can wreak havoc on our health. A UK study carried out between 1985 and 1988 on over 100,000 people showed that both a decrease and an increase in sleep duration led to an elevated risk of mortality.
Consistence is key with sleep, so making habit of going to bed and waking up at the same time each day helps to encourage good sleep and, in turn, good health. Experts agree that sleeping 7 or 8 hours a night is best.
Exercise for more sleep
Want to get more shut-eye? Then move more! Research has shown that those who regularly exercise benefit from better sleep and improved mental health. Insomnia and sleep disturbances are believed to affect between 30 to 50% of all people at some point in their lifetime. However, it appears that making the effort to move everyday can have a positive impact on the quality of our sleep.
A study carried out in 2005, on 2,600 men and women between the ages of 18 and 85, found that getting 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise a week provided a 65% improvement in sleep quality. Participants also reported feeling less tired during the day than those who did less physical activity.
Eat your way to a good night’s sleep
What we eat and drink before bedtime plays a part in how we are going to sleep that night. For example, eating a big meal late at night or drinking a cup of coffee an hour before bed, are not good ideas! Foods that naturally send us off to the land of nod include bananas, which are rich in the amino acid, tryptophan, which helps us fall asleep, and foods high in fibre, which can help keep us full during the night. Alcohol before bed is also not a great idea, as it stops you entering into deep sleep and very often causes people to wake during the night.