How to get a good night’s sleep
In today’s fast-paced, always on world, sleep has become something of a luxury, and getting those all-important eight hours seven nights a week can prove an ideal we are forever chasing without much success.
Whilst many might consider their sleep deprivation a badge of honour, using it to laud their impressive productivity levels over others, it’s only a matter of time before getting less rest than you need sends things crashing down around you – having the opposite effect and leaving you unable to function.
Sleep deprivation has become a public health epidemic, according to the World Health Organisation – and can prove detrimental to your health and wellbeing. From feeling run-down and sluggish to being less alert behind the wheel, a lack of shut-eye brings with it a whole host of dangers and can have a negative impact on your life. So if your sleep routine isn’t doing it for you and you regularly find yourself suffering from burn out, then it may well be time to make a change.
Here are ten tips for getting a better night’s sleep tonight. You can thank us tomorrow, when you wake up feeling like a brand-new person.
Plan your day with sleep in mind
Many people think that a good night’s sleep starts from the moment they get into bed at night – but in reality, this couldn’t be further from the truth. In actual fact, it’s what you do during the day that has the greatest impact, either setting you up for a solid eight hours or making it less and less likely that you’ll get some much-needed rest.
Excess energy can cause restlessness at night, so if you suffer from insomnia then scheduling in some daily exercise is an effective tonic. Not only will it tire you out enough to drift off when your head hits the pillow, but it will also help you to feel more energised when you make up the following day. Exercise also promotes biochemicals including endorphins, endocannabinolds and neurotransmitters, all of which are powerful in reducing stress and anxiety.
Avoid taking naps during the day if you can, as this can impact upon your sleep quality when you go to bed at night. And try to get outside in the sunlight as much as you can to promote melatonin, which is essential for regulating your circadian rhythm.
Finally, be sure to eat a healthy diet and introduce a cut-off point for caffeine. Avoid tea and coffee 4-6 hours before bed, as drinking them too late can make it more difficult to switch off – switch to a warm, milky drink or a chamomile tea to help your mind and body to relax.
Establish an effective pre-bedtime routine
There’s more to bedtime than just climbing into bed; hit the hay in the wrong headspace, and you could be setting yourself up for disaster.
Avoid deep or emotionally upsetting discussions in the hours before you aim to go to sleep, as these can leave you feeling anxious and unable to switch off. Avoid big meals and snacks before you head up, too, as indigestion is another foe that will endeavour to keep you awake.
The key to building a healthy bedtime routine is to replace the habits that hinder you with those that will help instead. Take a long, hot bubble bath, then spend half an hour or so doing reading a magazine or light book under the covers – the blue light from phones and laptops can disrupt that all-important circadian rhythm, so keep them at arm’s length for at least an hour before you intend to go to sleep.
If you still have trouble drifting off, then mindfulness techniques such as meditation can help. There are lots of great apps that will guide you through sessions and sleepcasts, or provide you with soothing sounds to help send you off with ease.
Create a sleep-friendly environment
The key to a good night’s sleep is often in the environment around you. The bedroom should be reserved for sleep only, so avoid eating, drinking or working in your bedroom, and ensure that it is quiet and as dark as possible at night – black-out blinds can often help.
A comfortable bed is a must – so if yours isn’t quite cutting it, then it might be time to replace it or invest in a luxurious mattress topper to upgrade the one you’ve got. A good night’s sleep requires a supportive base that is breathable and moulds to fit your body – the Dozy Owl has more on mattress toppers.
Temperature is another key consideration when it comes to getting some quality shut-eye – too hot, and you’ll toss and turn all night, while too cold, and you’ll struggle to sleep. Good quality bedding is essential – opt for breathable and hypoallergenic offerings for optimum comfort.
If outside noise tends to bother you, then a good pair of earplugs or sleep buds can help – and be sure to switch off or banish any electronics from the room, to keep humming sounds (and temptation) at bay.
Don’t clock watch – doing so will only cause worry and stress, so turn yours away from you so that you can’t see the time. Try not to worry, and practice some deep breathing until you drift off. Forget what it is that you’re trying to achieve, and it will often happen easily without you even realising.