How to Optimize your Sleep


Sleep is one of the best and most important things we can do for our bodies every day.

While we sleep the body repairs itself and the brain clears beta-amyloid protein plaques. Higher concentrations of these plaques are found in people with Alzheimer’s disease.

Without adequate or good quality sleep our mental and physical health suffers. Sleep is as important as regular exercise and a healthy diet for our wellbeing.

Sleep deprivation can have long-term effects on our health so it should be a priority for everyone to address. 

Here are 5 ways to ensure better quality sleep:

Create a Sleep schedule and Stick to It 

A regular bedtime and wake time is ideal. The average adult needs anywhere between 6 and 8 hours of sleep daily. Regularly going to bed too late will negatively impact your brain and physical capacity the next day. Trying to “catch up” by sleeping in is also not helpful because it can affect your ability to sleep that night.

Establish a wind-down pre-sleep routine that you start a few hours before bedtime. Only go to bed when you are tired. Trying to go to sleep too early if you are not tired can be counterproductive. Make sure your bedroom is tidy, well ventilated, and at a comfortable temperature.

Avoid Naps

As appealing as daytime naps are, they can interfere with your ability to sleep well at night-time. If you absolutely must nap, make it a short nap – not more than 20 minutes. It would be a good idea though to establish why you have the need to nap. There could be some other underlying health issues that need to be addressed.

Get enough Exercise

Moderate to vigorous exercise can reduce the time it takes for us to fall asleep and improve the quality of our sleep. Exercise also alleviates daytime sleepiness and reduces the need for naps.

Do avoid exercising too late as this can have a stimulating effect which will not be helpful.

Exercise helps us to manage our weight which is important because a higher-than-normal body weight increases the likelihood of sleep apnea which interferes with sleep quality and reduces the amount of oxygen supply to the brain.

If you snore or suspect sleep apnea ask your doctor to send you for a Sleep Study. You may require a CPAP machine to make sure you get enough of an oxygen supply throughout the night to improve your sleep quality and energy levels during the day.

Manage Stress

When we have high amounts of stress our bodies release stress hormones that can prevent our minds from switching off so that we can fall asleep. Stress can cause us to be restless and wakeful during the night, and it can prevent us from going into the deep restorative level of sleep that we need.

Ensure all your Dietary Needs are Met

Avoid eating large meals before bed. Your body takes time to digest your food and if the digestive processes are not complete your quality of sleep can be compromised. It’s also not a good idea to go to bed hungry. Blood sugar fluctuations during the night can be disruptive to your sleep too.

Other tips for good Quality Sleep Include:

  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol, nicotine before bed.
  • Remove the television from your bedroom
  • Ensure that your room is dark, even a light on an alarm sensor or the bedside clock can be too much light so cover those and use black out curtains if necessary.

Listen to my interview with Brad Kirsten from Radio Cape Pulpit on 17 March 2022 to learn more. Listen to my next interview on Thursday at 7.45am