Lifestyle Choices that can Influence your Sleep

If you find yourself yawning throughout the day and can’t figure out why, it may be time to take a look at your lifestyle choices. These simple lifestyle changes can help improve the overall length and quality of your sleep, making annoying daytime yawns a thing of the past.

Drinking too much

We all love a drink, especially over the Christmas period. As The National Sleep Foundation so rightly put it: ‘when it comes to sleep, if you booze, you lose’. So how does alcohol affect sleep? With diuretic, dehydrating and deep-sleep interfering properties, alcohol is classed as one of the top 3 sleep deprivers alongside caffeine and nicotine. Although alcohol helps you to drift off to sleep quicker, this false friend reduces the quality of your sleep, preventing you from entering the deepest, most restorative and satisfying part of your sleep cycle (REM sleep). Sorry to say, your length and quality of sleep is negatively affected by consuming large quantities of alcohol late in the evening.

To encourage a restful night’s sleep, consider switching your evening tipple for a more sleep-friendly drink such as a cup of warm milk. Alternatively, if you don’t want to cut out alcohol entirely, try limiting yourself to drinking once or twice a week.

Having a bad diet

An unhealthy diet full of saturates and sugars is strongly discouraged due to the associated health implications: obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes to name but a few. However, when and what you eat can also make or break your evening’s sleep. The BBC’s guidelines for eating your way to a good night’s sleep recommend having your evening meal at least four hours before going to bed, avoiding spicy, caffeinated and sugary foods. By following this advice, you are giving your gut the best chance you can of metabolising your food before it’s time for bed.

To replace your sleep-deprecating diet with a sleep-friendly one, consider introducing some of the foods that help you sleep better such as rice, cherries and bananas into your daily regime.

Not exercising enough

Although getting up and getting active to help you sleep seems counter intuitive, finding time to exercise in the day is known to help improve the length and quality of sleep. Unfortunately, exercise is not a ‘quick fix’ but, if you remain persistent, it has been known to help facilitate sleep.

For a comprehensive beginner’s fitness plan and a list of bite-size workouts, check out the NHS’s Live Well Page.