by Scarlett Sykes
When it comes to tracking sleep, it is a very divided camp. Just like marmite, you either love it or hate it. But why is something as simple as some data and knowledge of the amount of kip you are having really something to debate?
If like me and you have children who like to regularly disturb a peaceful night’s sleep then tracking the number of hours you did (or most likely didn’t) have can seem a very depressing way to start the day. Like I need a watch to tell me I was awake more than I was asleep!
So with that said, I probably wouldn’t recommend starting your tracking journey when you have just had a small baby but once things settle down or for everyone else, tracking the hours you sleep can have many benefits. There is a lot more to it than whether you got that optimum 7-8hrs or not.
First, let’s start with the basics. According to those in the ‘know’, as an adult, we are meant to be getting around 7-9hrs of sleep a night. This essential sleep helps to improve mood, concentration, and productivity, strengthen your heart, and support your immune system along with reducing the risk of depression. Just a few reasons to try and get some good shuteye.
Tracking your sleep tells you much more than just the time you were in bed, it tells you the quality – how many restless hours, REM, or light sleep hours you had. Knowing the quality of your sleep allows you to work out where there might be areas for improvement which will also go to helping your overall health and mental wellbeing.
If you are having that ‘6-8hrs’ but a lot of it is restless this can mean that you aren’t getting enough deep sleep which is where many of the health benefits are. Restless sleep can be a result of many factors including too much caffeine, perhaps too much TV or phone before bed, or an overall high-stress level in your body. Knowing that you are having restless sleep means you can assess where you can perhaps learn to improve these areas in your life.
There are a few ways to try and help get a good night’s sleep, including:
As much as possible, try to stick to a sleep schedule. This means going to bed at around the same time every night and waking around maximum 7-8hrs later, or at the same time each morning
Food and drink
What you eat and drink close to bedtime makes a big difference to your sleep. Obvious ones like sugar and caffeine are not going to help.
Where you sleep is key – make sure that the temperature is cool enough, it is dark enough and you are feeling calm and rested before drifting off. Start as you mean to go on…
The dreaded blue light. Don’t stare at your phone for hours before you go to bed. Get off Instagram and read a book or get a little stretch in before catching your zzzz.
Making sure that you do some form of exercise in the day has been proved to have a whole host of benefits to your overall health, including your sleep. You don’t have to do a crazy class or spend hours at the gym, just a short yoga class at home or a walk will do wonders!
One thing to highlight when it comes to tracking your sleep is that it shouldn’t make you feel anxious or become obsessive. It is meant to be a way to help improve your overall health and assist you in becoming more in tune with your body and sleep…not something that makes you feel worse. If you find that tracking your sleep is doing this, then stop. There are many benefits to knowing what your body does when it’s resting but make sure you find the right choice for you!
Right, I’m off to catch flies…