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We all have evenings when we struggle to nod off or nights when we wake up and can’t get back to sleep – and, whatever your situation, there’s no denying that the past two years have been mentally tough. While it’s easy to become accustomed to being sleep deprived, it’s not good for you and there are huge psychological and emotional benefits to getting enough good-quality sleep. It can help to reduce stress – crucial for navigating the undeniably challenging times we’re living in – and lift your mood and energy, which in turn leads to better relationships with your family, friends and colleagues. Sleep can also improve your memory, lift brain fog and boost productivity, helping you breeze through everything from work to Wordle.
On average, we should be aiming to get between seven and nine hours of sleep a night, although it varies from person to person. The general rule of thumb is that if you feel tired from the moment you wake up and spend the whole day in need of a nap, you’re not getting enough hours. The physical health benefits of a great night’s sleep range from boosting your immune system to helping you maintain a healthy weight. Sleep can even help ward off more serious illnesses including diabetes and heart disease. If you’re not getting enough sleep, research suggests getting an extra hour or two a night, starting on a weekend, by going to bed when you feel tired and allowing yourself to wake up without an alarm clock.
Being active can help you sleep better, so add some exercise to your daily routine. Avoid doing anything too vigorous just before bedtime – think gentle yoga stretches rather than a sweaty HIIT session. Alcohol and caffeine affect sleep, so try to cut down your intake and avoid caffeine after 12pm. Create a sleep-friendly environment with a cool, dark and clutter-free bedroom and build in habits such as switching off devices at least an hour before bed and taking a warm bath or shower before you hit the sack.
Words: Ellie Spicer
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