If you’ve ever had a terrible night’s sleep, you’d know how hard it is to get through the next day… Poor concentration, sluggishness, and an insatiable hunger are just some of the not-so-great symptoms. Now imagine an extended period of deprived sleep, be it from jet-lag or inexplicable insomnia. Getting a restful night’s sleep suddenly goes from being an impulse to something that consumes your every waking thought!

Professor Marc Cohen believes the secret to getting a restful sleep is understanding how your internal body clock – or circadian rhythm – works.

“We all have an internal master clock, a cluster of 20,000 neurons in our brain just above the point where the two optic nerves from the eyes meet. This master clock controls our circadian rhythms, responding to light and regulating when we sleep and wake,” Professor Cohen explains.

“Circadian rhythms vary from person to person, meaning that those who claim to be night owls and like to sleep in, aren’t necessarily lazy, but are actually may be subject to different circadian rhythms than those who rise early.

“Listening to your body and working in sync with your circadian rhythm can make for a more productive day and also help optimise quality sleep. If your workday allows for some flexibility, it’s worth altering your day accordingly. Failing that, there are still some changes you can make to help improve sleep quality,” says Cohen.

1. Stick to a consistent sleep schedule

Going to bed and waking up at the same time each day sets the body’s internal clock to expect sleep at a certain time every night. Try to stick as closely as possible to your routine on weekends to avoid a Monday morning sleep hangover.

2. Limit your tech use before bed

Computers, phones and televisions all emit blue light, which promotes wakefulness, even more so than natural light. Try to put devices down at least one hour before bedtime.

3. Reach for the right sleep aid

If your health professional has ruled out any underlying medical conditions for sleeplessness, a herbal supplement could help. ReDormin Forte* is a natural medicine that helps reset the sleep cycle. It contains a specific combination of herbal extracts, referred to as Ze 91019, which has been clinically shown to help restore and re-establish healthy sleep patterns within two weeks as well as increase the time spent in the deeper, restorative stages of the sleep cycle.

4. Pay attention to lighting

Light plays a key role in controlling your circadian rhythm. In the morning, with exposure to light, our body’s internal master clock sends a signal to raise body temperature and produce hormones like cortisol to help wake you up. Try to get plenty of natural light within two hours of waking and keep yourself exposed to bright lights or sunlight throughout the day. At night, try to decrease the amount of light you expose yourself to so your body can naturally release the hormone melatonin, which promotes sleep.

5. Avoid stimulating activities close to bedtime

Doing work, discussing difficult issues and exercising can cause a rise in the hormone cortisol, which can keep you awake.

*Always read the label. Use only as directed. If symptoms persist consult your healthcare professional.

If you found this interesting, you should read about the real reason you wake up in a sweat that has nothing to do with the heat, and the 5 surprising signs you need a probiotic.

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