Sleep is more than just a state of rest. It’s a fundamental pillar of good health. During sleep, your body repairs and rejuvenates itself, allowing your immune system to strengthen and your brain to consolidate memories and process emotions. Adequate sleep is essential for maintaining cognitive function, supporting cardiovascular health, regulating hormones, and promoting optimal mental and physical well-being.
We caught up with one of ZoomDoc GP – Dr Mike Prudden for the stats. “Unfortunately the impact of poor sleep is even more profound than most people realise. Short sleep duration (less than 6 hours per night) is associated with a 45% increased risk of developing or dying from coronary heart disease, weakened immune systems and a higher susceptibility to infections are observed in those who sleep less than 7 hours per night, while inadequate sleep also raises the risk of obesity by 55% and type 2 diabetes by 30%. In men, it can lead to a reduction in testosterone levels by approximately 10-15% and individuals consistently sleeping less than 6 hours per night face a 12% higher risk of premature death!”
Sadly, with the rise of technology, increasing work demands, and a culture that values productivity over rest, sleep in the developed world has suffered. Many people experience shorter sleep durations, disrupted sleep patterns, and an overall decline in sleep quality. The average night sleep in the UK is now 6.5 hours – down from 8 hours 50yrs ago. All of this can be exacerbated in Summer as the temperature rises leading to sweaty, uncomfortable nights.
But fear not! With the tips and strategies outlined in this guide, you can reclaim your sleep and experience the transformative benefits it brings. By making simple changes to your sleep routine and environment, you can enhance the quality of your sleep and wake up feeling refreshed, energized, and revitalized for all the fun-filled adventures Summer has in store for you.
- Create a Cool Oasis: As the temperature rises, creating a cool sleep environment becomes paramount. Studies suggest that the optimum room temp is 18 Celsius. Invest in breathable bedding, use lightweight fabrics, and keep your room well-ventilated.
- Embrace Darkness: The longer daylight hours can disrupt your sleep patterns. Combat this by ensuring your sleep space is as dark as possible. Opt for blackout curtains or an eye mask to shield yourself from the sun’s early morning rays and enjoy uninterrupted slumber.
- Banish Gadgets: While it’s tempting to scroll through social media or binge-watch your favourite shows before bed, electronic devices emit blue light that interferes with your sleep cycle by supressing a crucial sleep chemical – Melatonin. Disconnect from screens at least an hour before bedtime and indulge in relaxing activities instead.
- Mindful Wind-Down Routine: Create a soothing pre-sleep ritual to signal your brain that it’s time to unwind. Sip on a cup of chamomile tea, practice gentle stretching, or indulge in a calming read. Allow your mind and body to transition peacefully into a state of relaxation.
- Optimize Comfort: Your mattress and pillow play a vital role in ensuring restful sleep. Choose a mattress that supports your body’s needs and a pillow that aligns with your preferred sleeping position. Personalize your comfort to wake up feeling invigorated and ready to conquer the day.
- Consistency is key: By establishing a consistent bedtime routine, as well as a fixed wake-up time, your body can achieve a regular circadian rhythm which allows for optimal sleep quality. This is especially difficult but crucial to accomplish on weekends, where a prolonged lie-in can actually be detrimental for our sleep in the long run.
- Breathable Sleepwear: Swap heavy fabrics for lightweight, breathable sleepwear to promote airflow and prevent overheating during the night. Opt for natural fibers like cotton or bamboo to keep you cool and comfortable as you drift off into dreamy slumber.
- Save your liver: Alcohol can act as a powerful sedative in helping us get to sleep after a big night out or boozy afternoon. However the quality of our sleep is greatly reduced as it supresses the critical ‘REM’ part of our sleep cycle during which we dream, process memories and solidify learning. This leaves us feeling exhausted, even if the total hours asleep were good. Cut down the drink to optimize your ZZZs
- De-caffeinate: Caffeine in our tea and coffee and be a great morning beverage to get us revved up for the day. However caffeine also has a ‘half-life’ (the time for 50% to be processed by the body) of 6-7 hours. That means by bed-time, half of your ‘mid-afternoon slump’ coffee will still be active in your body disrupting your ability to get over.
- Early sun is golden: Whilst bright night-time light will keep us awake, this is exactly what we want in the mornings. Morning sun in our eyes – ideally by getting outside for a walk or run, will trigger our sleep-cycle to enter its ‘awake phase’, keeping us refreshed and energised throughout the day.
For personalized advice, discussion about whether natural or medicinal sleeping aids may be applicable to you, or even if you’re concerned about an underlying medical condition affecting your sleep. Don’t hesitate to talk to your GP or make an appointment with a Zoomdoc Doctor today.