Even those who live the healthiest of lifestyles often ignore the importance of good quality sleep.

Our brains can operate on five hours of rest, or even less, and it’s easy to think that it’s okay to miss a few hours of sleep now and then, especially given the hectic nature of modern life.

We are all sometimes guilty of not going to bed when we ideally should, and this can have a negative impact on the following day.

On average, we spend a massive 35% of our lives asleep. This is primarily for the restoration and repair of our bodies. Not getting enough can actually alter activity in genes that control metabolism, inflammation, immunity and stress.

Growth hormone is probably the most vital of the many hormones released during sleep, especially to those who exercise due to its importance in building and repairing muscle. growth hormone is also linked with increased metabolism and is responsible for stimulating cell growth, reproduction and regeneration.

Glucose and glycogen are the main sources of energy for our bodies and are particularly vital as fuel for events beyond 90 minutes. Any sleep deprivation can decrease glycogen synthesis and decrease the storage of glycogen.

When we get less sleep than we should, appetite and hunger are increased by raising the concentrations of the appetite-stimulating hormone ghrelin and lessening the levels of the satiety hormone leptin. This makes weight loss and management harder than it could be with regular amounts of quality sleep.

Sleep experts believe 7.5 to 8 hours a night is an ideal amount – but this will be different for each individual.

Even if you have a busy schedule and lots to get done, try and make time to sleep. At least 7.5 to 8 hours a night is recommended by most healthcare professionals. Get into a routine and try to go to bed at the same time every night. Always try and wake up at the same time and try and wake with natural light if possible, which will suppress melatonin. Avoid hitting the snooze button if you can.
Get the very best mattress your budget will allow and turn your bedroom into a place you feel relaxed in. Avoid using your bedroom for anything other than sleeping in where possible.

Prepare for sleep with a routine that allows you to unwind and relax. Avoid caffeine and sugary drinks.
A hot bath or herbal/green tea can help you unwind and relax prior to going to sleep. Give yourself a break from social media and answering emails late at night. These things can always wait until the morning. Computers and phones emit blue light that suppresses the sleep hormone melatonin and the quality of rest you get by avoiding staring at your phone will dramatically increase.

Even though exercise is certainly good for one’s body and health, properly timing exercise is key to maximize the positive effects. A good workout can make you more aware, speed up your body’s metabolism and give you more energy for the day ahead, but exercising before bedtime can cause a bad night’s sleep. It is suggested to not exercise at least three hours before bedtime,
and the most advantageous time is usually late afternoon.

Exercising at this time is beneficial because body temperatures rise exponentially during exercise and take as long as 6 hours to begin to drop. A rise in body temperature can cause a poor, uncomfortable nights rest. Cooler body temperatures are linked with the onset of sleep, it’s essential to allow the body time to cool off before sleep. A fan in your room can help cool the environment down enough to the ideal temperature.