I’ve touched upon how important sleep is in our wellbeing and health. I am currently exhausted at night and I do not have any trouble falling asleep, and at the moment I hardly wake up during the night for any length of time – this I put down to my marathon training. However, I am not naïve enough to suggest marathon training, or any type of excessive training, as a solution to insomnia!
Exercise is however recommended to aid natural sleep – experts say 150 minutes per week will help people feel more alert during the day and sleep better at night. Exercise has so many benefits, and if this is one of the benefits that appeal to you then great!
Food and drink is another factor to encourage a good sleeping pattern. Try not to eat a massive meal late in the day, and ensure you combine protein and carbohydrates. Ensure that you are not drinking excessively in the evening, especially tea/coffee or alcohol. Caffeine will block sleep inducing chemicals in the brain and increase adrenaline, which in turn will keep you awake. Alcohol can help you get to sleep but you will generally go straight into a deep sleep and miss out on the first REM stage of sleep (REM – rapid eye movement). The REM stage is thought to be restorative and therefore an important stage. The more obvious reason for not drinking liquids late is the fact you will have to wake in the night for the toilet, and you may not be able to get back to sleep.
If you have loads of thoughts whizzing around in your head, it can be so difficult to switch off. A good idea is to list these thoughts on a piece of paper or diary, to get them ‘out of your head’ but ensure they are not forgotten.
Another very simple, and free way to help you relax ready for sleep, is to deep breathe. Try to breathe in for the count of 5-10 seconds, and then breathe out for the same amount of time. Sit up straight whilst you are doing this to enable your diaphragm to move freely. This sounds really easy but it does take some practice. Try and do this for 5 breaths every night and see if it helps you.
I am a busy mum of two teenage boys, and between them and work I am forever running around. I have always been interested in fitness, and I make sure that exercise features regularly in my life. However many of my friends are not into fitness like me, yet want to be healthy. I want to help people make healthy lifestyle choices which will impact on their fitness, without necessarily feeling the need to throw themselves full force into exercise.