How to sleep: A doctor’s top four recommendations to easily fall asleep

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Dr Patel pointed out the “biological impact” of having less than eight hours of sleep nightly. “There is no single organ or any process in the brain which is not enhanced by sleep or impaired by the lack of it,” she said. Sleep is connected to people’s ability to learn, make memories, and to make logical decisions. “It calibrates our emotional brain circuits,” Dr Patel added. “It lets us navigate social and psychological challenges.”

Getting quality shuteye “restocks the immune system, fights malignancy, and prevents infection”.

Sleep is also connected to metabolic states, appetite control, and body weight.

“[Sleep] maintains your gut health and gut microbes, and it also protects your DNA,” said Dr Patel.

So why are so many people struggling to get the shuteye they deserve? And what can be done about it?

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“Sleep can be optimised as long as there is commitment to take action,” said Dr Patel. “These are my top four tips to support good quality sleep.”

Tip one – no coffee after 1pm

“As much as we love coffee, let’s love it more before lunch,” she recommended.

Tip two – avoid alcohol before bedtime

“How easy is it to end a day of work by unwinding with a glass of wine,” Dr Patel remarked.

“However, alcohol is actually a stimulant and as much as you may feel relaxed, it robs you of your deep sleep.

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“Drinking alcohol can affect your memory, creativity and productivity.

“You may also find yourself waking up in the middle of the night and feeling unrefreshed the next day.”

Tip three – Say no to screen time before bed

“Reaching for our phones has become such a habit,” Dr Patel admitted.

“But that artificial light from our phones, and computers, and gadgets is what suppresses melatonin from initiating sleep – it’s the blue light that we’re most sensitive to.”

Dr Patel suggests putting a blue light filter on your gadgets or putting on some yellow tinted glasses.

“Better still, switch yourself off from all gadgets one hour before bedtime and enjoy a wind down routine instead.”

Tip four – read, journal or meditate

Dr Patel recommends doing an activity that relaxes you before bedtime, such as reading, journalling or meditating.

“Did you know, stroking a pet has been shown to release the hormone oxytocin,” Dr Patel stated.

“This is an anti-stress hormone that can help to relax us, inducing a state of calm before bed.”

Dr Patel is the founder of the Lifestyle First Method and has created an innovative lifestyle quotient (LQ) test.

“The LQ test helps you identify areas in your lifestyle that need your attention,” she explained.

“The test is based on the 10 key dimensions of health which research tells us play an important part in shaping our health.”

10 key dimensions:

  1. Life’s purpose
  2. Identity
  3. Food
  4. Exercise
  5. Sleep
  6. Time out
  7. Connections
  8. Learning habits
  9. Emotions
  10. Motivation and mindset

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