A healthy diet and exercise have long been the steak holders in a healthy lifestyle.  However, research is showing that sleep is now a main player when it comes to staying healthy.  If you are not getting enough sleep it will often have an impact on mood and ability to focus but it can also put you at risk of serious medical conditions including obesity, heart disease and diabetes and therefore ultimately shortens life expectancy.

Most of us need around eight hours of good quality sleep a night to function properly. You need to work out how much you need to function well.   There are a variety of factors that can cause poor sleep but mostly these are due to bad sleeping habits.  The occasional night with sleep will make you feel tired and irritable, but it won’t harm your health.  After several sleepless nights the mental effects become more serious increasing your risk of injury or accidents.  If the lack of sleep continues your overall health can suffer and make you prone to serious medical conditions.

The best way to try and boost your sleep is to try and add an extra hour or two at the weekend.  Go to bed when you are tired and wake up naturally, without an alarm.   You will find that you sleep around 10 hours a night at first but as your body recovers that should gradually decrease to a normal level.

10 rules to good sleep hygiene

These are top tips that will help you to improve sleep and avoid things that are known to disturb sleep.

Avoid Caffeine – Avoid Caffeine containing products 4 hours before bedtime. Caffeine is a stimulant and will keep you awake.

Avoid Nicotine – Avoid Nicotine an hour before bed. This is also a stimulant.

Avoid Alcohol – Alcohol can promote sleep at first but will disrupt sleep later at night.

Keep Meals Small – A light snack before bed can be beneficial but a large meal should be avoided.

Keep Up Exercise – Keeping regularly active will help to promote good sleep but try and avoid doing exercise 2 hours before bed.

Calm Bedroom – Keep the bedroom calm and tidy. Select a Mattress, pillows and sheets that are comfortable.

Ideal Temperature – Try avoid your bedroom being to hot or to cold.

Darkness Is Calling – Keep your bedroom quiet and dark at night but spend as much time as possible in the day light.

Sleeping Only – Try and keep your bedroom only for sleeping. Avoid screens an hour before bed.

Set A Bedtime – Keep a regular time for going to bed and getting up.