Sleep provides people with the ability to function properly each day – failing to get enough can have a significant impact on our performance and health.
The ‘eight hours of sleep’ per night rule that many people adhere to is actually a myth – some individuals need less, others need more.
However, it is widely accepted that anything less than seven hours is bad, while no adult should need to spend more than nine hours asleep.
Your chances of getting the requisite amount of sleep will be significantly boosted if you undertake some relaxing activities before bedtime.
A recent study by Betway Insider highlighted that point to perfection, with meditating for 30 minutes before sleep found to be the best pre-bedtime activity.
Participants who meditated slept for an average of eight hours and four minutes per night, with more than one third of that tally spent in deep sleep – the most restorative type of rest.
Using meditation as a sleep aid will likely be linked to the fact that the practice can have a powerful effect on reducing your levels of stress and anxiety.
Meditating teaches people to manage negative thoughts more effectively, giving you a great sense of control over your own destiny.
Cardiologist and certified mindfulness teacher Dr Jonathan Fisher is an advocate of people using meditation as an integral part of their daily regime.
“Practicing mindfulness has been shown to enhance both our mental and physical wellbeing,” Dr Fisher said.
“Heart benefits have been reported as a result of reduced stress, including lower blood pressure, and improved ability to quit smoking and stop overeating, which are two important risk factors for cardiovascular disease.”
While establishing a relaxing pre-bedtime routine is important in the sleep process, it is only one of the building blocks required to ensure people get the most benefit from their resting hours.
Neuroscientist Matthew Walker has conducted extensive studies into sleep during his career, and has written one of the most informative books on the subject.
His 2017 publication ‘Why We Sleep’ was an international best-seller, helping to cement Walker’s status as a respected authority on the subject of sleep.
He believes that people should know their chronotype, which is tied in to knowing your optimum times to sleep and the duration of this.
“You need to sleep in harmony with your chronotype to get the best sleep,” Walker told the ZOE Science & Nutrition podcast.
“For example, I’m somewhere in the middle and quite neutral – I’m between an 11.00 pm to 11.30 pm bedtime to a 7.00 am – 7.30 am wake up time, which puts me in the neutral category.
“If I was to go to bed at 9.00 pm and then wake up eight hours later, or go to bed at 4.00 am and wake up eight hours later versus my neutral eight-hour sleep window, it’ll make a big difference.
“You might think ‘but it’s still eight hours of sleep’, but the difference is that with one of these options I’m sleeping in sync with what my biological rhythms want me to do and the other times I’m out of sync and won’t sleep as well.”