Mareike's ultimate guide to healthy living - step #6: sleep better

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Step #1 was taking stock of your current health and fitness

Step #2 was addressing any issues that were uncovered during step #1.

Step #3 was moving more (by increasing your amount of exercise).

Step #4 was upgrading your diet.

Step #5 was managing stress.

And so we're onto Step #6: sleep better!

Does it really matter if you get enough sleep? Absolutely!

How well rested you are and how well you function during the day depends not just on the quantity of your sleep, but also the quality. If you have trouble sleeping, try these tips to help you drift off to the land of dreams: 

  • No screens one hour before bedtime. It's not just because the TV and computer are stimulating; it's also because we’re very sensitive to the light that cues our brain that we should be up and about.
  • No intense exercise close to bedtime. Vigorous activity will heat up your body's core temperature, which makes it harder to sleep.
  • Sleep in an environment that promotes melatonin production. Melatonin is a hormone that is linked to our ability to sleep. Sleep in a dark room, ensure your bedroom is free of as many electrical appliances as possible, and remove items that emit microwaves like mobile phones.
  • Set a regular sleep schedule. If you suffer with insomnia, although you can't make yourself fall asleep, you can make yourself get up at a certain time the next morning. And although you might be tired at first, if you don't take a nap you might start sleeping better during the following nights.
  • Don't ignore chronic sleep problems. Some people let sleep troubles linger for months or years. Don't be one of them! Get to a sleep specialist earlier rather than later, before bad habits set in.
  • Prioritise good sleep. I advise my clients that sleep is as important, if not more, as diet and exercise.

Remember, skimping on sleep affects our brain’s performance, our mood and ultimately our health.

Yes, life is busy and we all have responsibilities we need to front up to, and at times these things cause us to cut back on our sleep time. But when you do have the opportunity to sleep more, I encourage you to take it. Your body and mind will thank you!

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Mareike Bout is a qualified and registered personal trainer who specialises in holistic fitness and lifestyle coaching. She is a recognised leader in the industry, receiving the peer-voted South Australia Personal Trainer of the Year award in 2008. She is also a regular guest on Adelaide’s top-rating radio station FIVEaa. Mareike runs her personal training business, One Life Live Well, both online and from a private studio in Adelaide. Services include one-on-one training, outdoor group fitness, lifestyle coaching and weight-loss programs. Individually tailored programs encompass aspects of exercise, nutrition, relaxation, positive thinking, life balance, and goal setting. Her approach is to guide, support and educate her clients so that they posses the tools required to live a life of health, strength and vitality!