EXPERTS have revealed the ultimate bedtime routine to get a sound night’s sleep.
The simple formula ensures you’ll get to sleep quickly, while waking up refreshed, too.
Zoma Sleep – a performance-enhancing sleep brand for athletes and busy people – created the guide with experts in light of how many people are not getting enough shut-eye.
The firm’s survey of 1,000 people showed that 51 per cent of Americans surveyed are skipping sleep to get work done.
This habit could spell trouble, as sleep deprivation is linked with all sorts of serious health problems, from heart disease to depression.
James Nguyen, of Zoma Sleep, said: “It’s becoming easier than ever to get consumed by the daily grind.
“When this is combined with increased use of devices before bed, it is clear to see that natural sleep cycles for many may be under strain at the moment.”
FOUR HOURS BEFORE BED
“Although morning is generally regarded as the best time to exercise, exercising a few hours before bed can help improve sleep quality, while also giving the body time to re-adjust before bed”, James said.
A 2018 review of 23 studies showed adults who did evening exercise got to sleep faster and spent more time in deep sleep compared with similar adults who did not.
The findings, published in Sports Medicine, warned those who did high-intensity exercise less than one hour before bedtime took longer to fall asleep and had poorer sleep quality.
It’s thought exercise can induce sleep because it produces helpful hormones, like serotonin.
It also causes body temperature to spike before coming down again over a couple of hours, which can help facilitate sleepiness.
THREE HOURS BEFORE BED
You shouldn’t go to bed on an either a full or empty stomach.
Eating around three hours before bed “allows the stomach to properly digest food and focus on preparing for sleep,” James said.
If you try and sleep while the body is digesting food, it could cause heartburn as well as distract the body from winding down.
Snacking really close to bed could also make your blood sugar levels spike, boosting energy at the exact time you want to get sleepy.
But avoid eating too early in the evening because you might go to bed hungry, “and if the body lacks the calories it needs to recharge, it will hold on to carbs and fats instead of using them as fuel”, James said, suggesting weight gain.
TWO HOURS BEFORE BED
Drink caffeine-free herbal tea or warm milk
When you’re settling down for some TV binging in the last hours before bed, have a comforting decaf hot drink.
“A herbal tea such as chamomile contains Apigenin, a therapeutic antioxidant which can help reduce anxiety and initiate sleep,” James said.
“Whereas milk contains tryptophan, an amino acid which increases serotonin and melatonin levels that help to induce sleep.”
Tryptophan is also found in some foods, like turkey, chicken, canned tuna, cheese and fruits.
James said: “Drinking two hours before bed reduces the risk of going to bed with a full bladder, and therefore should lead to an undisturbed sleep.”
90 MINUTES BEFORE BED
“Bathing in a lukewarm bath or shower before bed can aid sleep – as the body cools down after bathing, this is a signal for the brain that it is time to sleep,” James said.
“It also means going to bed clean.”
A review of science showed that a shower or warm bath one to two hours before bed improves sleep quality and time to sleep.
But the paper in Sleep Medicine Reviews warned that too close to bedtime, a soaking in hot water can disrupt the body clock.
Submerging in hot water will raise the body’s core temperature, and it needs time to come back down to signal to the brain it is bed time.
ONE HOUR BEFORE BED
Put down the devices and set alarm based on sleep cycle
James said: “Electronic screens emit blue light, which stimulates and alerts the brain, while preventing the release of melatonin.
“High smartphone use before bed has also been linked to impaired sleep, depression and anxiety.”
A number of studies have shown that late-night scrolling tricks the brain into thinking it’s still daytime, preventing nodding off.
James also recommends going to bed at a time that suits your sleep cycle.
Each sleep cycle is 90 minutes long, made up of various stages of sleep.
If your alarm goes off halfway through deep sleep or REM sleep, when dreaming and memory storing happens, you’ll likely feel groggy.
But if you wake at the end of your 90 minute cycle, you’ll feel more refreshed.
“Therefore, it’s a good idea to calculate the sleep cycle and work backwards to figure out the best time to go to sleep and wake up,” James said.
If you need to wake up at 7am, you need to count backwards in 90 minute cycles then add on 14 minutes – the average time it takes to get to sleep. You’ll be looking at hitting the sack at either 9.45pm or 11.15pm.
30 MINUTES BEFORE BED
Light static stretching and get into bed
“Five minutes of light stretching and slow deep breathing will help the mind and body relax before bed,” James said.
“It’s important not to get into bed too early, and only when ready to sleep. This ensures the brain associates the bed with sleeping only.”
That means no TV watching, eating, or chilling in your bed.
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