Ad Astra recently hosted a Sleep Masterclass, during which we talked about the connection between getting less than 7 hours a night and our physical and mental health. We asked, how can we try to improve our sleep? This is what we came up with during our class.
1. Go to bed and get up at the same time EVERY day. This works but it takes some effort especially at the weekends!
2. Don’t exercise too close to bedtime so your body has time to calm down and relax again
3. Your body takes between 5 & 7 hours to get rid of 50% of the caffeine you ingested. Caffeine prevents your brain receiving the ‘I’m tired’ signals
4. Alcohol – a sedative. Even just one nightcap completely disrupts your sleep – REM & N-REM cycles are gone and the ‘sleep’ you will experience is like being under a fitful, disturbed anaesthetic
5. Late meals = indigestion = disturbed sleep, try to avoid eating anything at all after 8pm
6. Artificial light prevents the release of melatonin, which helps initiate sleep. Keep the lights off or low for an hour before bed. GET OFF YOUR DEVICES!!!!
7. Having a hot bath or shower encourages the core temperature to drop more rapidly when you get out, which the body requires at the start of sleep. In other words, don’t get too hot in bed… 😉
8. Do not nap after 3pm – it will disrupt your night-sleep pattern. It is common for older people to fall asleep early evening as their circadian rhythm gets earlier, but try not to and go to bed too early! Ideal nap time is about 20mins
9. Bedroom – try not to keep it too hot (see 7 above) – 15-18C. Get rid of all stimuli including lights, standby lights and illuminated clocks. Use blackout curtains and earplugs, and turn clocks away from you especially if clock-watching makes you anxious when you’re disturbed in the night. A red light could be an idea for bathrooms for that midnight visit
10. Get outside in bright light in the morning – the sunlight gives your brain good strong signals that you should be awake now!
11. If you’re struggling to drop off, or go back to sleep and you’ve been awake for more than 20mins, get out of bed and do something relaxing, ideally in low light until you feel sleepy again. Watching TV doesn’t really fit here though! Read a book or listening to something like Headspace or Calm might be a better option
12. Check that any medicines don’t affect your sleep – blood pressure medicines and statins, or sometimes paracetamol have added caffeine. If you think this might be the case, speak to your GP to see if you can change the timing of your dosages so they have less impact on your sleep.
The Sleep Masterclass was very popular and as it turns out, a very interesting subject that we could have talked about all day. So, another one is planned in the not too distant future. If you have an interest in sleep, or if you’re struggling to get your 7 hours at the right time, drop me a message on firstname.lastname@example.org or via the Ad Astra Yoga & Pilates Facebook page and I’ll make sure to notify you of the details.