Each and every one of us are different in how much sleep we actually need. The general rule of thumb is between seven and eight hours, but some people need more and others need less. Plus, it's often easy to blame lack of sleep - or a perceived lack of sleep - for being tired when there are many other factors like stress and being constantly busy that can contribute to that feeling of fatigue.
According to Professor Jim Horne, director of Loughborough University's Sleep Research Centre when interviewed by All About You earlier this year, the amount of sleep we need is quite flexible, saying people are "biologically programmed to adapt". A great article, one of the big points we took out of it was the stress factor of worrying about the amount of sleep instead of the quality of sleep we get.
So taking that lead, what can we all do to get good quality sleep - the kind of sleep that sets us up for a great day?
Get ready for bed: The brain and body needs to wind down a bit before the head hits the pillow. Set an alarm for when you want to start getting ready for bed (novel!), take a bath, read something relaxing, turn the lights off or do other small things that let your brain and body know it's just about time for zzzz.
Dark is best: Gadgets and TVs in the bedroom are more and more common these days, but they can contribute to poor quality sleep. Even a small amount of light disrupts sleep waves (we want the deep slow-wave variety for the best rest), so play with your bedroom set-up and make sure blinking lights and screens of all varieties are off while you slumber.
Stimulation = less sleep: Exercise is good for sleep right? Yes, but not a couple of hours before bed. Triggering adrenaline is like telling the body that it has to stay alert and active which is not conducive to nodding off for quality sleep. A big diner late at night has a similar effect because you've just given your body a big to-do list to get through before the morning. The body can't get optimum rest if it's busy digesting in the twilight hours.
Work out your circadian-rhythm: Just like the amount of sleep we need, we all have our own circadian-rhythm (whether you're a morning person or a night owl etc). Take a look at a quiz that was designed to help people work out their own rhythm. Life might get in the way of sleeping and waking exactly when your body would prefer, but the test will give you some good pointers on how you can best work your sleep patterns and more. Click here or go to www.cet.org.
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