The most helpful advice to give anyone feeling anxious or stressed, is to get more sleep.
The many benefits of a good night’s sleep include: –
- Improved memory – During sleep our memories are consolidated and new skills practised.
- Increased creativity – The brain re-structures thoughts and ideas, often in creative ways.
- Improved physical performance. – Sleep improves physical performance, whether the individual is an Olympic athlete or a child learning to skip.
- Improved attention in the classroom – Sleep deprived adults feel lethargic. Sleep deprived children become hyperactive.
- Helping to maintain a healthy body weight – Anyone on a diet will feel hungrier when deprived of sleep.
- Improved cardiac health – Sleep has a positive effect on blood pressure and cholesterol levels, reducing the risk of heart disease.
- Improved reaction time – Insufficient sleep for just one night can be as detrimental to an individual’s driving ability as having an alcoholic drink.
- Increased emotional well-being – Mental stability improves after a good night’s sleep. If we have less than seven or eight hours sleep each night, we will suffer significant mental dysfunction.
To get more sleep: –
- Stick to a regular sleep routine. Get up and go to bed at the same time every day.
- Avoid using electronic screens close to bedtime: the blue light the screens emit fool the body into thinking it is day.
- Avoid drinks containing caffeine in the two hours before going to bed.
- Avoid heavy meals immediately before bedtime: the body will think it is time to get up and start working. Have an easily digestible snack, a banana or a milky drink, to prevent pangs of hunger during the night.
- Spend the 30 minutes before bedtime winding down. Avoid activities that will alert the brain, for example, ringing a friend for a gossip.
- Body temperature fluctuates throughout the day and is at its highest in the afternoon. If the bedroom is too hot, it will be harder to sleep.
- Make sure the bedroom is dark and quiet. Use an eye mask or ear plugs if the environment is too light or noisy.
- Improve ventilation. If the room is stuffy, it will be harder to breathe easily, which in turn will disturb sleep.
- If, during the night, you think of something you must act on tomorrow, keep a notebook at the side of your bed and, resisting the temptation to think about the problem, jot the thought down and go back to sleep.
- Experiment with natural sleep remedies, for example, a small amount of lavender essence sprinkled on a pillow is believed to enhance sleep.