Sleep – a foundation for good mental health

In our previous article, Ways to beat the stress in your life, we introduced the idea that sleep is fundamental for good health. We highlighted some simple steps you can take to improve your ability to achieve a good night’s sleep, and in this article, we delve a little deeper.

Ditch the digital

We all spend time throughout the day accessing our digital devices to work, read the news, catch up on social and so on. Our electronic devices emit a blue light that can disrupt our bodies release of the sleep hormone melatonin – leaving us feeling less tired and therefore unable to sleep well. Feeling relaxed before you go to bed is key. Try reading a book or magazine to help you unwind – but nothing too exciting which could cause a jolt of cortisol which will have the reverse effect of waking you up.

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Prepare your pod

Where you sleep should be somewhere comfortable with the temperature just right. The Sleep Council recommends an ideal room temperature of 16-18°C. Too hot (over 24°C or 71°F) is likely to cause restlessness; too cold (around 12°C or 53°F) and you’ll find it difficult to drop off.

Your room should also be dark. Darkness helps the body release melatonin – so draw your curtains and/or blinds. And if you find the room is still a little light, try using a sleep mask or a blackout blind.

Added comfort

Did you know, according to The Sleep Council you should change your mattress every seven to eight years? Given we spend approximately one-third of our lives in bed, it seems reasonable that we should invest in a good mattress to help secure a good night’s rest.

And be mindful of stimulants

The recommended amount of caffeine per day is 400mg, that’s around four cups. But remember, caffeine can also be found in other products such as tea (including green tea), cola drinks and chocolate.

Some of the symptoms associated with too much caffeine include high blood pressure, insomnia, increased anxiety and muscle breakdown. Provided you stay within the recommended daily limit you shouldn’t experience any of these side effects. And given the half-life of caffeine is between 5 and 7 hours means it could remain in your blood stream for up to 14 hours, reducing your afternoon intake is definitely a good idea. 

Poor quality sleep patterns can effect every part of your being. So, wherever you can, try and make a good night’s sleep a priority - doing so will improve both your mental and physical health.

Ben Massey

Business Development - Occupational Health & Hygiene

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