6 healthy habits that will help you sleep better
Healthy sleep habits are crucial when it comes to getting the restorative rest you need to face the day in the best physical, emotional and mental conditions.
Getting a good night’s sleep is a cornerstone of comprehensive health. A good night’s sleep is one of the most important preventive measures that exist because the body “resets” itself during sleep. And you don’t need to be an expert to know what it’s like to wake up after a night of little, bad or broken sleep: with a lack of energy, in a bad mood, with problems with concentration and memory, apathetic and fatigued. As Dr. Vicente Mera, head of the SHA Wellness Clinic’s Sleep Unit, tells us, “rest is a vital restoration mechanism because it helps strengthen the immune system, improves cognitive abilities and mood, balances hormone levels, helps maintain a healthy weight, increases energy levels, reduces the risk of suffering certain diseases (such as diabetes or depression) and prevents premature ageing. The brain also eliminates unnecessary information during sleep, which has a direct influence on memory. In short, our physical, cognitive and emotional capacities depend to a large extent on the quality of our sleep”.
The problem we face is that the frenetic pace of life in today’s society, immediacy and, especially, the global health crisis have led to an increase in sleep disorders, preventing us from enjoying the 50 hours a week the expert recommends. And this makes it even harder for us to be the best version of ourselves. The reasons why we do not sleep well are many and varied, but the doctor underscores one above all others. “Being overweight is the most frequent isolated cause that alters both the structure and the process of sleep”, he says. “Generally speaking, obese people sleep much worse than those who watch their weight”.
To enjoy a good night’s sleep every night, establishing healthy sleep routines that not only focus on the time before going to bed, but also take daytime activity into account, are crucial. Vicente gives us six basic guidelines to make it easier to get a good night’s sleep:
1. Get ready for bed, always before midnight, by practising a relaxing activity such as yoga, meditation or conscious breathing.
2. Dinner should be light and should end two hours before bedtime to allow enough time for proper digestion. Choose healthy foods rich in magnesium (nuts and green leafy vegetables), vitamin B6 (fish), calcium (sesame), and tryptophan (legumes, seaweed, seeds), an amino acid essential in the production of two hormones that regulate rest: serotonin and melatonin. You should also avoid spicy foods, fats, tobacco and alcohol as they affect the nervous system.
3. Do regular,moderate physical exercise, but never at night.
4. Avoid nocturnal activities in bed that make it difficult to get a good night’s sleep, such as watching television, reading or checking social media.
5. Create a conducive environment: the room should be completely dark, well ventilated but not draughty, and free of noise and electronic devices. You should also avoid strong smells and extreme temperatures (22.5°C is ideal).
6. It’s impossible to sleep well without a comfortable bed. The perfect mattress should be hard, but adaptable, and with a pillow that allows the head and body to be and stay in the foetal position.