Sleep your way to the top!

Sleep is one of the most important things in the world. A good night’s sleep is just as important as regular exercise and a healthy diet.

As adults, we are always on the lookout for those things that can enhance our lives such as the latest smart gadgets or that car that you must absolutely have. It’s always nice to have new things, but if there is one thing that can improve your life significantly that is free, accessible and completely within your control; it is quality sleep.

The importance of quality sleep
Quality sleep is vital for a healthier body and an improved state of mind. Sadly, people are sleeping less today than they did in the past. A good night’s rest is important for the following reasons:

For enhanced moods
Sleeping badly has a unique way of ruining your day. A lack of sleep affects your brain function, making you fuzzy headed and moody. But then I guess you know this! Poor quality sleep can affect your happiness just as much as a stressful work deadline can. If you want to be more focused and generally more positive, sleeping for longer could be your answer.

It improves productivity
Sleep is important because it affects the way that your brain functions. Poor sleep can impact your concentration, your cognitive ability, productivity, and your all-round performance. A good night’s sleep can improve your problem-solving ability and can enhance your memory as the quality brain rest is crucial for brain function.

It improves your athletic performance
Athletes are generally encouraged to sleep for longer periods if they want their performance to improve. But did you know that in addition to physical conditioning and conscious eating, sleep plays a major role in athletic performance and competitive results? The quality and amount of sleep athletes get is often the key to winning. REM sleep in particular, provides energy to both the brain and body. If sleep is cut short, the body doesn’t have time to repair memory, consolidate memory, and release hormones.

Tennis great, Serena Williams, told a UK publication that she usually sleeps well and enjoys going to bed early around 7 p.m.

In the same way, better sleep can increase your flexibility and can improve your range of motion, which means that you can walk faster and that you are likely to face fewer difficulties carrying out errands and various activities. 3 ways to improve the quality of your sleep

1. Create a sleep schedule

You should set aside at least 8 hours each day, which is the recommended amount of sleep for a healthy adult. Follow a regular schedule to live a happier, healthier life and ensure that you get the full 8 hours. So, create a sleep schedule and stick to it. Be consistent, pick a bedtime and a wake-up time and stick to them as much as possible. Make gradual adjustments as you won’t be able to change your sleep schedule overnight. The most effective tactic is to make small changes slowly. By working on changing your bedtime in 15-minute increments, your body will have an easier time adjusting. Though it’s certainly tempting to hit the snooze button in the morning to get a few extra winks, resist. The first few days of getting up earlier won’t be easy, but post-snooze sleep isn’t high quality. Instead, set your alarm to the time that you actually need to get up and remember that it may take a few minutes for your body to adjust to a daytime rhythm. If you can, skip the alarm altogether. Your body should wake up naturally after a full night’s sleep—usually seven to nine hours—and you’ll feel most alert if you wake up without an electronic aid.


2. Eat healthily

If you want to sleep better, you should watch some of the things that you eat and drink. A healthy diet is essential to improved sleep. We've all heard of warm milk's ability to send us off to dreamland. Dairy foods contain tryptophan, which is a sleep-promoting substance. Other good sources include nuts and seeds, bananas, honey, and eggs. Carbohydrate-rich foods also help boost tryptophan in the blood. So, a few good late-night snacks might include a bowl of cereal and milk, nuts and crackers, or bread and cheese.

Protein is great during the day. But not so much when you're ready for bed. It's harder to digest and contains the amino acid tyrosine, which promotes brain activity. So, skip the high-protein snack before bedtime and opt for a small piece of cheese and some sleep-friendly carbs, like crackers. It's no surprise that an evening cup of coffee might disrupt your sleep. Even moderate caffeine can cause sleep disturbances. But don't forget about less obvious caffeine sources, like chocolate, coke, and tea. For better sleep, cut all caffeine from your diet 4 to 6 hours before bedtime.


3. Make your environment comfy

Your bedroom should be comfortable and ideal for sleeping. This means that it should be cool, quiet and dark. Avoid screens and TVs or anything that emits light because it can be debilitating to your sleep. Turn off or even better, remove from your bedroom any technology (including mobile phones) and stop using them an hour before you go to bed as it will over stimulate your brain.

Sleep tight!

Sally is the Founder of LifeBuddy. She is an Organisational Development consultant and is a Practitioner with the Association for Business Psychology.