Five ways to ensure you are not deprived of sleep

aat comment

With recent research finding that students who are deprived of sleep achieve less, getting a good night’s rest has never been more important. Steven Perryman offers five ways to ensure you get more than 40 winks.

Tossing. Turning. Counting sheep. There aren’t many more frustrating things in life than being deprived of sleep. Just ask a new parent, for whom the vagaries of obscure game shows and random shopping channels in the early-hours become a religion.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, sleep deprivation can have an adverse effect on your life beyond buying Zumba DVDs you don’t want. According to recent research carried out on international education tests, sleep deprivation is a significant hidden factor in lowering the achievement of school pupils. And a similar study in 2011 found that sleeping longer helps athletes reach peak performance.

In short, sleeping matters.

How to avoid being deprived of sleep

Want to be on the ball in the office all day, every day? Or ensure you are 100% for that all-important AAT assessment? Here’s five ways to make sure you get the night’s sleep your efforts deserve.

1. Your bedroom

It might sound obvious, but where you sleep is important. You need the right environment to get a good night’s sleep and that means a bedroom that’s pleasant, inviting and welcoming. It doesn’t have to be all candles and Kenny G, either.

The Sleep Council recommends keeping your room completely dark, removing clutter out of the room and avoiding distracting electrical appliances such as televisions, computers and mobile phones. In fact, anything with an LED display is considered a no-no (including clocks).

2. Your lifestyle

Making your bedroom a place of solace from your everyday lifestyle is equally important. Do you check your phone within 15 minutes of waking up? You’re not alone. More than three quarters of people recently surveyed confessed to the same problem in an IDC Research Report.

Therefore create a habit of going to bed and waking up at the same time each day, even on weekends. This helps anchor your body clock to these times. Resisting the urge for a lie-in can pay dividends in alertness too.

3. Watch what you eat

Get in from the pub and fancy a snack? Not that you should be drinking alcohol anyway (more on that later), but eating a large heavy meal too close to bedtime will interfere with your sleep.

In particular, spicy or fatty foods can cause heartburn, which leads to difficulty in falling asleep and discomfort throughout the night. Also watch out for foods containing tyramine (such as bacon, cheese, ham, aubergines, pepperoni, raspberries avocado, nuts, soy sauce) which might keep you awake at night. Tyramine causes the release of norepinephrine, a brain stimulant.

4. Watch what you drink

It’s fine to have a nightcap if you’re nervous before an assessment or a big meeting, but too much alcohol makes you restless.

Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it encourages you to urinate (never welcome during the night). Red wine also contains tyramine, making it double trouble the night before anything important.

Drinking endless coffee to drag you through a harsh revision session may seem like a good idea at the time, but caffeine is a stimulant which can stay in your system for many hours too. So, avoid sources of caffeine such as coffee, chocolate, cola drinks and non-herbal teas the night before.

5. Get fit

Exercise releases the hormone serotonin, which makes you sleepy, and also lowers your body temperature, another key factor in a good night’s sleep.

But before you grab your trainers and run into the sunset like Mo Farah the night before an assessment, be mindful not to do it too close to bedtime, as exercise also produces stimulants that stop the brain from relaxing quickly. Instead opt for early evening or morning sessions for the desired effect.


Steven Perryman is AAT Comment's former Content Editor.

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