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August – Improved Sleep Challenge

Welcome to our Monthly Challenges

Did you know you subconsciously work harder when there’s an end date to your goals?

The shorter time frame keeps you actively putting effort in, particularly when it’s the end of the month.

Your Goal in August is: Improve Your Sleep

The Challenge

Sleep plays a vital role in our physical and mental health, yet many neglect it. Your goal for August is to focus on improving the quality of your sleep. It is recommended that adults get around 7-8 hours of sleep each night and if you are not managing that then you will need to increase the duration of your sleep too.

You spend 1/3 of your life sleeping, don’t neglect it.
Source: Pixabay.com

Health Benefits

Good sleep should be the standard for people and so the “benefits” are more a case of avoiding all the negatives that come from poor sleep. One of the best books around for understanding how detrimental inadequate sleep is to your life is Why We Sleep. For sleep tips I would also recommend reading Sleep Smarter. In both those book reviews I’ve covered in detail what negative effects poor sleep has on you, and I’ll recap some of those now:

  • Studies have shown one night of sleep deprivation can make you as insulin resistant as a person with Type II Diabetes. It can lead to faster ageing, decreased libido and increased body fat storage.
  • A study of physicians showed sleep deprivation led to 14% increase in time to complete tasks and 20% higher error rate.
  • Depriving sleep in key hours has led some researchers to classify overnight shift work as a Group 2A carcinogen (same as UVA radiation)
  • Routinely getting less than 6 or 7 hours sleep more than doubles cancer risk
  • Car accidents from drowsy driving exceed that of drink driving
  • Being awake for 19 hours is comparable to being too drunk to drive in terms of decision-making and reaction times
  • Two forms of insomnia are sleep onset (trouble getting to sleep) and sleep maintenance (trouble staying asleep).

Some of the statistics surrounding insufficient sleep
Source: Johns Hopkins Medicine

Scary, right? From personal experience I found improving my sleep made one of the biggest differences to my quality of life than all the other health tips I’ve followed. There really is no substitute for it and it cannot be overstated. Here’s an extensive list of tips that you can implement right away and hopefully see instant changes.

Source: www.patientslikeme.com

Tips

  1. The single most effective way to improve sleep is to have a set bed time and wake time, even at weekends.
  2. Your room should be dark enough when sleeping that you can’t see your hand in front of your face. Cover alarm clocks and consider black out blinds or thick curtains.
  3. Get at least 30 minutes of sun exposure in the day to improve signals for your body to sleep at night. The best time of day for light exposure is 6.30-8.30am, so try to prioritise exposure even if it’s a cloudy day
  4. A bedroom that is 65 Fahrenheit/18 Celsius is an ideal sleep temperature. If you sleep with a leg out the sheets the room is likely too warm. Wear loose socks to bed if you have poor circulation, as cold extremities can prevent sleep.
  5. Take a warm bath 90-120 minutes before bed as the increase in body temperature will then initiate a drop and aid sleep. Alternatively, splash water on your face before bed, the wet hands and face will dissipate heat and your body temperature needs to drop 2-3 degrees to facilitate sleep.
  6. Avoid screens (blue light) 90 minutes before bed. Improve sleep by using mood lighting in the evening, using blackout curtains and a blue-light blocking app on electronic devices e.g. f.lux
  7. Avoid processed and sugary foods, instead opting for those rich in Selenium (Brazil nuts), Vitamin C (citrus fruits), Tryptophan (turkey, sweet potatoes), Omega 3 (oily fish) and Magnesium (spinach).
  8. Chamomile tea before bed can help you sleep faster
  9. Meditation can minimise ‘chatter’ from thinking at night and improve focus in the day. It’s also shown to help with insomnia.
  10. Maximise comfort based on your sleeping position:
most common sleeping positions
  • If sleeping on your BACK, avoid a big pillow as your spine is misaligned and makes it harder for blood to reach the brain
  • If sleeping on your BELLY, bring one knee up to the side, remove the pillow from under your head and use it to lift hips
  • If sleeping on your SIDE, avoid a big pillow, use a pillow between your knees if you suffer back pain and shift so you aren’t directly pressing down on your shoulder

Thanks for reading, please share this article with any friends and family you might benefit from optimising their sleep.