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How to sleep better (and why we really should care about our sleep).

Sleep can have a huge impact on our attention, understanding, mood, relationships and performance. And good sleep doesn’t just mean lots of sleep – we can’t scrimp on our sleep during the week and try to make up for it at the weekend. Dr Chatterjee in his book The 4 Pillar Plan talks about how we are living in a middle of a sleep deprivation epidemic and it is affecting so many aspects of our lives and our mental health.

Matthew Walker, Author of Why we sleep says “There is not one process in the human body, (that we’re aware of) that isn’t improved by sleep”. Poor sleep is now being linked to a variety of health issues such as Cancer, Diabetes, weight gain, Heart Disease, Poor fertility, Weakened immune system and DNA damage.

How much sleep we need, varies from person to person, but it is somewhere between 7 – 9 hours. What works for me will be different to what works for you. We need to take back control over sleep stealers and make sleep a priority. We need to sleep away our stress and maintain our mental well-being.

Our 4 top tips:

1. Get a set routine where you go to bed and wake up at pretty much the same time every day, even at weekends.

2. Get as much natural light as you can throughout the day but especially in the morning. Collette Heneghan (Health & Wellbeing Coach) even recommends keeping off the sunglasses to absorb more Vitamin D! This will help with your circadian rhythm.

3. Exercise and eat early. Dr Chatterjee recommends eating within a 12-hour period. Exercising early (even for just 20 minutes) can set you up for the day.

4. Wind down - unplug for a least an hour before bed. Avoid electronics blue light. Most devices now have a blue light filter which is worth using in the run up to your switch off.

When you really can’t sleep, get up and go to another room and do something relaxing. Once you feel sleepy, try and go back to bed. This can help reduce anxiety or going over in your mind your to-do list, things that happened during the day, what you should have or should not have done. If you do find yourself struggling to get to sleep regularly, it might be worth keeping a sleep diary. It may also be worth seeing your doctor as sometimes poor sleep could be due to an underlying medical condition. ­­

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