Getting enough sleep is essential in keeping us happy, healthy and energised. Most of us are recommended an average of six to nine hours each night if we are to function fully and feel good the next day. Some people may need more, others less – but we all need it.
So when for whatever reason, we can’t fall asleep or wake up through the night, we get very frustrated. Even moreso if your partner is snoring away happily!
You may not be able to control a bump in the night waking you up, but there are some ways you can promote sleep – from making sure the room temperature is just right to taking time to destress and unwind early in the evening.
Here are our five tips for a better sleep.
Set the right temperature
You may think you need a cosy, warm bedroom to get a good night’s sleep but actually, a cooler room temperature is best. Too hot or too cold and you can disturb your body clock, so try switching off the heating an hour earlier than usual, or opening a window to welcome in some fresh air.
During winter, keep a spare blanket beside your bed, this way if you get too cold you can layer up, but still have the option to kick it off, too. In the summer months, switch your duvet or a lower tog model – nobody likes to wake up sweating!
Managing stress is key to getting a good sleep. When there’s a lot on your mind, often you won’t switch off fully. You’ll keep thinking about the things that you need to do / are happening, and your sleep will be compromised.
We understand when you’re busy, it’s hard to settle down and switch off in the evening. But as little as 10 minutes’ relaxation can make for a better sleep. Run yourself a bath using Epsom salts or aromatherapy oils to enhance the relaxation properties. Practise yoga or meditation to clear your mind of the daily stressors and prepare for a restful sleep.
Managing stress takes time and dedication. One warm bath won’t solve your sleeping issues, but taking a moment to practise self-care each evening is a step in the right direction.
Ditch the tech
You’ve probably heard it before, but try to keep your bedroom completely tech-free. Yes, that means no television, no laptop and no phones. Not only does the blue light emitted by screens affect the production of melatonin (the hormone that controls sleep), using technology before bed keeps your brain alert and engaged – the opposite of what it should do come bedtime.
Set yourself a tech cut-off time. Switching everything off at 9.30pm and picking up a book to read instead, encourages relaxation and helps the mind switch off. You may only manage a few pages, but we promise you’ll notice a difference!
Move your body
Staying regularly active and exercising often is thought to help you fall asleep more easily, and sleep more soundly through the night, than those who live a more sedentary lifestyle. While it’s often said that exercising too close to bedtime can have a negative effect on sleep quality, this hasn’t been proven and many people find a late gym session is better for sleep than an early one.
Move your body regularly, in whatever way you enjoy. Whether it’s going for evening walks, swimming, yoga or weight-training, regular physical activity is essential in a healthy lifestyle.
Find a routine
Perhaps the most important thing, is to find a routine that works for you. You may not be able to have a bath every day, despite it being the thing that helps you sleep the most. Life can get in the way, but remember that you know your body most. Listen to what it needs – if you’re working too hard or are feeling stressed, take some time to relax. Soon enough, you’ll learn to recognise when you need a break, including needing more sleep, and it’ll become habit. Write down your aims (for example, switch off tech at 9pm, go to bed for 10pm etc.) and record your progress. Set reminders if you need to, but try and stick to this routine and you should start to see your sleeping habits improve.
Of course, if your sleep problems are persistent, further help may be required. There are many treatment options available, so consult your GP if you’re worried.