How to sleep better – simple ways to get a good night’s rest
1. Give yourself permission to go to bed later if you’re not sleepy
Image credit: David Brittain
It really is ok. Quality sleep is much more important than quantity. And besides… that will come eventually.
2. Get up at the same time every day
Yes! 7 days a week, even if you have slept badly. If this is a terrifying notion it’s probably an indicator of how unregulated your current sleep is. It does get easier… I promise!
3. Get more light in the day!
Image credit: Brent Darby
Light is not the enemy. Yet we are simply told to avoid it at night. Yes be sensible in the evenings. But why are we getting ready in the dark?! Light is the most influential external factor on our sleep/wake cycles and lifts our mood! Artificial is OK too…
4. Napping has become fashionable
And yes short naps ‘G’ you up. But that’s just it…they have literally stolen some of your sleep ‘fuel’. Therefore you need to regain it again if you still expect to sleep a solid 8 hours of quality sleep. Get rid of the naps or, reduce your nightly expectations!
5. Try some anxiety reduction and relaxation techniques
Mindfulness and anxiety reduction isn’t designed to make you sleep instantly, yet we seem to have that expectation (and are thoroughly disappointed when they don’t). It’s designed to help you avoid stress, and therefore sleep problems in the future. It is a proactive tool, not a reactive one!
Image credit: Tim Young
How to get a good night’s sleep
Whether you’re a full eight hours person or can get by on a mean lean four, quality sleep time is the key to a productive and happy day.
‘We spend about a third of our lives asleep,’ says Tobin James, Tempur UK Managing Director.
‘Good quality sleep is essential to maintaining good mental and physical health. It’s as important to our bodies as eating, drinking and breathing and can affect our performance, concentration, energy levels, relationships, moods and interpretation of the world.’
‘Up to one third of the population suffers from insomnia, with common mental health problems such as stress, anxiety and depression often underpinning sleep problems, and likewise, poor sleep often leading to poor mental health.’
So put a spring in your step with our top tips for restful snoozing. Read on to discover how to sleep better.
1. Assess your environment
Find the perfect mattress
From a pocket-strung design to an open-spring mattress or even a memory-foam version, finding the right mattress can make the difference between a good sleep or a restless night. A mattress should be the right firmness and tension to support your back and neck, making it super comfortable to sleep on.
‘When you keep in mind that the average person spends a quarter of their life sleeping, it makes sense to start at the very heart of your bedroom – your mattress,’ says Thomas Colleran, Brand Manager at Duvalay. ‘An uncomfortable bed can rob you of up to an hour of sleep a night, and that’s before we even talk about the hygiene aspect. A typical human sheds over a pound of skin a year, while also losing around half a pint (285ml) of moisture each night!’ Yuck!
‘This spring time, it is the perfect time to think about investing in a new mattress,’ Thomas adds. ‘Your average mattress should last between seven and eight years, and while this doesn’t seem long, if you put aside the lack of quality sleep and mounds of dead skin and sweat, investing £1,000 in a mattress equates to just 35p a night.’
Choose the right bedroom colour scheme
Image credit: Lisa Cohen
Whatever your bedroom decorating choice, make sure you choose a restful colour scheme. It doesn’t have to follow a strict interior design rule, but make sure you choose something that makes you feel relaxed and comfortable.
If you find large bright patterns stressful, then avoid. Not sure where to start? In general, green is considered one of the most calming colour schemes and it can work well with a variety of different hues.
Pick the ideal bedlinen
Again this is down the personal preference, but remember the thread count can make a difference. Typically, the higher the thread count, the finer and smoother the fabric. Think about the fabric and the weave – from plain to percale and satin to flannelette, there are a whole host of different fabric choices. And all this before you’ve even had fun picking colours and designs!
The power of lavender
A few drops of lavender on the pillow is said to help promote relaxation and ultimately a good night’s sleep. Try adding a splash of lavender essential oil to a bath for an even deeper sleep…
2. Make sure your have the right attitude
Image credit: Neale Smith
Make time a priority
Make sure you get eight hours a night. It’s useful to avoid looking at phones/screens/TVs for at least half an hour before you’re due for some shut eye. It works, trust us!
Stick to a routine
This one might be easier said than done, but try your best to stick to a similar bedtime routine – this means going to bed at the same time each evening and getting up at the same time each morning. Try to keep to a similar wind-down routine before you go to sleep so your body and mind knows when its time for shut eye.
Know your sleep
You need to know how much sleep you need to feel good. It’s likely to be seven to eight hours, but it could be as little as four. Try keeping a sleep diary or tracking your sleep with a wearable device (ideally not your phone). If you have a good idea of how much sleep you need to feel good and what affects your sleep, you can make sure you establish good habits, or pinpoint issues.
3. Rethink your current lifestyle
Image credit: Alun Callender
Watch what and when you eat and drink
As a rule, eating less than two hours before bed means that food hasn’t had time to digest before we try and sleep. This can lead to discomfort and indigestion. Fatty or spicy foods can take longer to process and stimulants like caffeine or sugar can give us a boost of energy when we want to be winding down. Rice, oats and dairy products can encourage us to feel sleepy. We like to think that alcohol makes us sleep better. It may help us nod off, but the quality of the sleep you get may be poor, and dehydration or a late-night takeaway can further impair our sleep.
Don’t exercise in the evening
Exercise is great for mental health and regular light exercise is a good way to improve sleep. Exercise floods the body with feel-good hormones that stimulate our minds and bodies, so beware of exercising late at night as it can actually keep us awake.
Don’t grab a nap on the way home
Sometimes it’s easy to give in to sleep on the train or bus home after a busy day. If you nod off, even for a short time, you can short circuit the natural hormone surges that set us up for our main sleep. So if you are tired early in the evening, try and get an early night.
4. Keep your health in check
Image credit: Tim Young
Don’t let a health issue stop you sleeping
Do what you can to treat colds and flu at home and make sure that you speak to your doctor if an ongoing health problem or treatment affects your sleep.
Find ways to address anxiety and worry
Health is one of our biggest worries. If you lie awake mulling over concerns about your health, or the health of a loved one, you could try a relaxation exercise or mindfulness practice to help settle your internal worries.
Don’t put up with poor sleep
Basic techniques can often improve your sleep. If tips like these don’t work, speak to your GP. It may be that you have an underlying health issue. If you have insomnia for more than a couple of weeks, or often feel so sleepy you could drop off during the day, it’s worth speaking to the doctor as sleep disorders can increase our risk of developing depression, heart disease or stroke.
We can all benefit from improving the quality of our sleep. For many of us, it may simply be a case of making small lifestyle or attitude adjustments to help us sleep better.
Video: How to Sleep Better - Simple Tips
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