Sleep is crucial to optimum health, fitness, stress management, good mood, weight management and a positive outlook on life.
So how can you guarantee you sleep well and for the right length of time every night?
Making sure you get a good night's sleep begins from the moment you wake up in the morning. Everything you eat, drink, do and think each day will have an effect on your sleep patterns later on, so managing your energy and keeping your system calm is crucial.
Here’s an example of what a 24-hour sleep-wake cycle could look like. You can adapt the ideas to suit your schedule. You may need to shift the whole routine forwards or backwards a bit and flex some of the timings to suit your preference for mornings or evenings and the specific requirements of your day, but the fundamentals are consistent for all of us.
Once you have the timing framework that suits your life, you can begin experimenting with specific meals and snacks to find the options that you like best. 0645
Wake up at a regular time and start the day with a glass of water or a cup of warm water with lemon
This is the beginning of a well-hydrated day. Proper hydration improves focus, prevents irritability and leads to eating well, so this is an easy way to get your day off to a great start. Think about this every day - the first thing you consume each day can set the tone for the rest of the day so begin as you mean to go on. 0700
Breakfast on porridge, oatmeal or muesli or fruit and yoghurt with seeds
Oats in porridge or muesli release energy slowly which keeps you calm throughout the morning. Fruit can release sugars into the bloodstream quickly but combining them with a protein such as yoghurt and seeds slows down the digestion of your breakfast.
Avoid sugary cereals which cause a quick rise in blood sugar followed by a quick drop which leaves you craving more sugar as this pattern will then repeat itself throughout the day. Climbing aboard this sugar rollercoaster leaves you feeling moody, running on adrenalin and makes it tough to wind down at the end of the day.
Set the tone for an active day
Get some fresh air and activity. Whether you’re getting only yourself to work or also sorting out other family members and children, aim to squeeze at least 1000 steps into your morning routine before arriving at work. Some of you will use this slot for your daily exercise. If you're working from home and don't have kids to get to school, try inserting a fake commute to the home office so you can get some movement and fresh air to clear your head and move gently into work mode.
Plan your day
Decide on your top 3 priorities and tackle the most important, challenging, daunting one right away. Drink water or herbal tea to aid hydration, energy levels and concentration.
Pause for thought
It aids good sleep if you avoid ploughing through each day continually challenging your busy brain without allowing any time to process, review and absorb what’s going on. Give yourself regular breaks to assess your day so far, refocus on priorities and plan the next small chunk of time. Operating this way will make your entire day more efficient and leave you feeling calmer.
A little pick me up
Drinking caffeine is like taking a quick injection of stress hormones. Tea, coffee and fizzy drinks should be kept to a minimum and for most people, cutting back here isn’t too much of a problem. Usually, you enjoy one or two. The third and fourth might not feel quite so satisfying and any more than that won't leave you feeling great.