GUIDE: How to Adopt Healthy Sleep Habits in Time for Fall
As if we needed more belief that sleep is good for us, a new study now suggests that suboptimal sleep is linked to an increased risk of heart disease and stroke.
The researchers found that “good sleepers” are less likely to suffer from strokes, but they also found that nine out of 10 people generally don’t get a good night’s sleep.
“The low prevalence of good sleepers was expected given our hectic, 24/7 lives,” said study author Dr Aboubakari Nambiema of the French National Institute of Health. and medical research in Paris.
“The importance of sleep quality and quantity for heart health should be taught early in life when healthy behaviors are established.”
With cardiovascular disease being the leading cause of death worldwide, researchers want to encourage greater awareness of the importance of good sleep in maintaining a healthy heart.
In the summer, positive sleeping habits can often slip – maybe we’re staying out later because the sun is still up, or maybe we’re drinking more than we normally would. Hot, stuffy bedrooms can also interfere with sleep. However, the new school year is right around the corner, which means fall is right around the corner.
It’s a great time to adopt new healthy habits – and striving for better sleep is a great start…
Do a digital detox before bed
Avoiding screens before bed is easier said than done, but it really could be the ticket to better sleep.
“Using your phone before bed is not good for our brains,” says Hector Hughes, co-founder of the Unplugged digital detox booths (unplugged.rest). “By taking your phone out of reach morning and night, your brain will sleep deeper and longer.”
Professor Jason Ellis, sleep specialist advisor at Puressentiel (fr.puressentiel.com) agrees, explaining: “The blue light emitted by your mobile phone screen minimizes the production of melatonin, the hormone that controls your sleep-wake cycle (circadian rhythm). This makes it even harder to fall asleep and wake up the next day. He recommends giving up screens at least an hour before bedtime.
So how can you actually apply a digital detox before bed? “Leave your phone out of the bedroom at night to avoid the risk of doomscrolling or checking your emails before sleeping. Instead, read a book or listen to a podcast,” advises Hughes. “I also recommend investing in a traditional alarm clock to wake you up in the morning, rather than your phone.”
“Being physically active improves sleep duration and quality,” says Ellis, who recommends walking or running “for at least 30 minutes a day” if you can — although any form of physical activity is better than none. .
And however you decide to exercise, you might want to time it carefully. “Running right before bed can keep you awake longer — it does for some people, but not all,” Ellis says. So it might be better to “do your exercise earlier in the day”.
Soak up more of nature
“Being in nature is great for our minds and bodies. It improves our mood, stimulates creativity and reduces stress and anxiety,” says Hughes.
For many of us, stress can be a huge obstacle to sleepiness. So especially if you live in the city, why not try to put a little more effort into getting out into nature? It could be something as simple as taking a walk in the park to see the leaves change, or taking a train out of town to breathe in the country air for an afternoon.
You can even combine this one with a more active activity and take your errands or walks outside for double the rewards.
Opt for sleeping plants
Ellis is a firm believer in using plant energy to help you sleep. He recommends essential oils like lavender, which he says “is used for its relaxing, drowsy, and calming effects.”
He continues, “Try other sleep-boosting herbs like marjoram, which is part of the mint family, which contains several compounds that can aid sleep,” as well as sandalwood, which is “rich in alpha and beta-santalol compounds, which have recognized sedative effects”.