The harmful effects of sleep loss extend far beyond lapses in concentration the next day. Regular poor sleep puts you at risk of serious medical conditions, including obesity, heart disease and diabetes – and it shortens your life expectancy. Finding ways to remedy sleep loss is therefore of paramount importance.
The causes of sleep loss can be hard to identify but the solutions are often simple.
Taking natural supplements has been shown to promote sleep and one that has caught the attention of researchers is melatonin.
Melatonin, often referred to as the sleep hormone, is a central part of the body’s sleep-wake cycle.
“Its production increases with evening darkness, promoting healthy sleep and helping to orient our circadian rhythm,” explains the National Sleep Foundation (NSF).
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Additionally, no withdrawal effects were reported in either of the above studies.
Furthermore, a meta-analysis shows that melatonin is also useful when traveling and adjusting to a new time zone, as it helps your body’s circadian rhythm return to normal.
Sleep loss – what to avoid
Exercise brings numerous benefits but properly timing exercise is necessary to maximise the beneficial effects.
“For example, a good workout can make you more alert, speed up your metabolism and energise you for the day ahead, but exercise right before bedtime can lead to a poor night’s sleep,” explains the NSF.
According to the health body, sleep experts recommend exercising at least three hours before bedtime, and the best time is usually late afternoon.
“Exercising at this time is beneficial because body temperature is related to sleep,” explains the sleep specialist.
It adds: “Body temperatures rise during exercise and take as long as six hours to begin to drop.”
Simple self-help tip
If you have difficulty falling asleep, a regular bedtime routine will help you wind down and prepare for bed.
As the NHS explains, this programmes the brain and internal body clock to get used to a set routine.
By working out what time you need to wake up, you can set a regular bedtime schedule, the health body notes.
It is also important to try and wake up at the same time every day.
The NHS explains: “While it may seem like a good idea to try to catch up on sleep after a bad night, doing so on a regular basis can also disrupt your sleep routine.”
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