Sleep has long been missing from the list of factors that are essential to a healthy lifestyle, even though sleep disorders are in fact the root of many health problems, such as stress, weight gain and the risk of stroke.
How many hours should we sleep each night? In reality, everyone has different needs. Some people can settle for 5 or 6 hours a night, but it is best to assume that on average 8 hours are required for a good night's rest.
Aspria experts recommend however focusing more on sleep quality, and adopting a regular sleep pattern – such as going to bed and waking up at regular times and sleeping the same number of hours each night.
Somnologist Charlotte Edelsten, a researcher specialised in the study of sleep, provides some practical advice to help you improve the quality of your sleeping patterns.
Good body temperature management is essential during the night. The ideal body temperature is 2 degrees below the usual daytime temperature. You must therefore be careful not to get too hot. A proper dark setting in your bedroom is also important.
For quality sleep, experts also recommend avoiding to eat very late dinners and to smoke in the evenings (as nicotine acts as a stimulant). Likewise, you should take your last coffee of the day during the lunch break, as caffeine remains in the body for up to 12 hours. Finally, it is ideal to limit the consumption of alcohol, which prevents you from achieving deep sleep.
Physical activity helps you sleep better. It is part of a virtuous circle: exercise increases the production of serotonin, which in turn boosts the production of melatonin, the hormone that promotes restful sleep. Another important aspect is to practice the right physical activity at the right time of the day, and usually not in the evening before going to sleep. A short walk before going to bed is no problem; on the other hand, an intensive workout in the evening will prevent you from sleeping well because it will increase your blood pressure and the production of cortisol, the stress hormone.