I was recently reading an article about Napercise. Napercise is a new fitness trend targeting the perpetually exhausted in the UK. The one hour class starts with gentle stretches to prepare the body for sleep. The sleep portion of the class is about 45 minutes, and then ends with some more gentle stretches to help the body wake up. It is really quite a clever idea, as sleep deprivation in our modern society is a chronic problem.
Sleep is vital to our body and mind’s ability to function. Chronic sleep deprivation is associated with higher cortisol levels making it harder to lose weight and easier to gain weight. Studies also show an increase in depression and anxiety for those that are always tired. Getting a good night’s sleep in our modern world is not always easy.
How can we find better sleep and enjoy the benefits of Napercise in the comfort of our own homes?
- Create a daily sleep-wake routine: get up at the same time every day—even weekends. Having a sleep schedule helps set your body’s internal clock. Be careful if and when you nap and offer to clean up after dinner to avoid snoozing on the couch.
- Bright light is great to invigorate our bodies in the morning and should be avoided in the evening. About two hours before bedtime start to dim the lights in the house. Avoid television, computers and any other backlit technology at least one hour before bed. Make sure your bedroom is as cool and dark as possible. You may be surprised to learn that even the display of our alarm clocks can prevent our body from falling into deep sleep. Look around your bedroom and see how you can eliminate as many light sources as possible.
- Exercise helps us sleep better. Even a short walk around the block can make a difference in how well we sleep—so get moving! If your schedule has you exercising at night, be aware that moderate and high-intensity exercise done within three hours of your scheduled bedtime can actually make it harder to fall asleep because your body is too warm. Here are a few simple yoga postures you can do before bedtime to help you prepare for a good night’s sleep as well: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/09/17/yoga-for-sleep_n_3505226.html.
- Avoid big meals close to bedtime and be mindful of drinking alcohol as well. Alcohol can actually disrupt your sleep cycle—waking you in the night. Watch caffeine intake as well. Some people are so sensitive to caffeine that ingesting it even 10 -12 hours before bed can cause problems.