IMPROVE YOUR SLEEP Posted on 14 July 202123 November 2021 by Michelle Jones Not getting enough sleep? Join the club – increasing numbers of us are suffering from constant fatigue. In today’s society, the pressures of work, running a home and maintaining a social life often means we burn the candle at both ends, often falling short of the recommended 8 hours sleep per day. Sleeping well promotes positive energy, increased concentration levels, good moods and physical health. Here are some tips regarding exercise and nutrition to help you improve your sleep: 1) TIME YOUR EXERCISETrain at a time when you are at your liveliest. If you are bright eyed & bushy tailed in the morning, it would be a great time to exercise. However, if getting up at the crack of dawn is your worst nightmare, it’s unlikely you’ll have a good workout. Exercising before you go to bed can actually make it harder to fall asleep. This surprises many people, as it’s often thought that working out makes you feel more tired. However, exercise stimulates your heart, brain and muscles: the opposite of what you want at bed time. Make sure you give yourself a few hours of relaxation before you plan to go to bed. Morning exercise can also relieve stress, improve mood & give you increased energy levels to tackle the day ahead. 2) TYPE OF EXERCISEThe best exercise for sleep is cardiovascular workout that raises the heart rate for at least 20 minutes. Holistic exercises, such as stretching and yoga will also help you relax and get ready for sleep. 3) EAT BREAKFASTThere’s a reason that breakfast is called “the most important meal of the day.” It gives you the energy you need to kick-start your day and fire up your metabolism. Try to begin the day with an energy-packed, low-fat, high-fibre breakfast. Reduce the amount of high-fat and high-sugar foods, which will to make you crash later on. 4) AVOID BIG MEALS AT NIGHTEat dinner earlier in the evening, and avoid heavy, rich foods within two hours of bed. Fatty foods take a lot of work for your stomach to digest and may keep you up. Also be cautious when it comes to spicy or acidic foods in the evening, as they can cause stomach trouble and heartburn. 5) AVOID CAFFEINE & ALCOHOLAs any coffee lover knows, caffeine is a stimulant that can keep you awake, so it’s best to avoid it for around four hours before bed time. Many people find that alcohol may help bring on sleep, but after a few hours it acts as a stimulant, increasing the number of times you wake up and decreasing the quality of your sleep.Prepare yourself for sleep by doing something to relax to take your mind away from your everyday stresses, like taking a bath, reading a book, or watching TV. Don’t take your problems to bed by doing work emails or talking about emotional issues – stressful activities can cause the body to secrete the stress hormone cortisol, which is associated with increasing alertness.Also, remember to go to bed when you are truly tired – struggling to fall sleep just leads to frustration. If you’re not asleep after 20 minutes, get out of bed, go to another room, and do something relaxing, until you are tired enough to sleep.If you are suffering from constant fatigue, book an appointment to see your GP, who can give you specific advice regarding your symptoms.