When it comes to sleep, it’s not just quantity that matters – it’s quality. Poor sleep takes a toll on everything from your job performance and sex life to overall health. And in women it’s been associated with feelings of hostility, depression and anger (aaaah, so we’re not just perpetually PMSing…), as well as a higher risk of diabetes and heart disease. Yeah, those are just a few of the side effects of being deprived of sleep.
Below are the top-five sleep thieves – and how to steal back your zzz’s:
1. All that titillating tech
Tablets, phones and laptops generate a whole bunch of short-wave blue light, which interferes with production of our sleep hormone, melatonin. This is normally produced in the mid to late evening, but using all that mobile tech for two hours before bed reduces melatonin concentrations by 22 percent. Switch it off…
2. Those sleeping pills that are supposed to conk you out for 8 solid hours…
Who knew: sleeping pills’ optimum efficiency in the body is just 30 minutes to two hours. So what about the other six hours? Exactly… So, for more time in the land of nod, rather pour yourself a glass of sour cherry juice. It’s rich in melatonin and a study found that, after seven days, healthy adults who drank it twice a day got approximately 34 minutes more shut-eye and napped less during the day.
3. A room that’s too snug, or a bit chilly
For a good night’s sleep, watch the temperature. Melatonin cools the body by a couple of degrees while we sleep. You don’t want the room too hot or too cold. The best pattern for a night’s rest is to start warm, cool off a little, then warm up in the early morning, mimicking the body’s natural temperature changes.
4. Your nightly vino (or three) habit
Need a nightcap to get to sleep? Not wise! Having a few drinks before bed disrupts slow-wave sleep, adding a boost of alpha brainwaves that are usually only present in the daytime. Even an early evening tipple can mess with your slumber.
5. And… drum roll… because they’re bad for you in every other way too…
Those naughty ciggies affect sleep no matter what time you light up. Research shows that each cigarette smoked during the day reduces total sleep time by one to two minutes. Here’s How Charlize Theron Quit Smoking – and you can too!
Besides the sleep thieves above, did you know that your sleep patterns change as you get older? It always seems that the older we get the less hours there seem to be for us to catch a proper snooze.