Top tips for a healthy nights sleep
“Good sleep hygiene helps ensures that we are fully alert to tackle whatever the next day has in store for us.”
How much sleep our bodies needs varies from person to person and also in accordance with our lifespan. We need the most amount of sleep when were young with newborns requiring 14-17hours a day and adults 7-8 hours according to the National Sleep Foundation.
Sleep hygiene is about creating healthy sleep habits which in turn will improve your quality and quantity of sleep. Appreciating that our behaviour during the day and around bedtime is key to ensuring that we achieve the required amount of sleep our bodies need.
Your bedroom environment is crucial for ensuring a good night’s sleep. There are lots of small changes that you can make to ensure that it is enticing and creates a relaxing space for sleep. These changes will not only help you fall asleep but also keep you asleep.
Invest in a good quality mattress, pillows and bed linen as we will spend almost a third of our lives in our beds so it’s important to make this as comfortable as possible!
A dark room can help keep you asleep particularly if you’re a light sleeper and affected by sunlight. Try installing a set of black out curtain or blind which will stop your bedroom from being flooded with light especially over the summer months. Other ideas include using an eye mask or heavy curtain fabric to minimise light disturbance.
To cut out the noise from neighbours, traffic or a snoring partner look at investing in a pair of decent ear plugs to help drown out the noise and ensure you wake up feeling nicely refreshed.
Cool quiet rooms are generally best for sleep so keep your thermostat set for between 18-24C. It’s important to remember whatever the temperature you feel most comfortable at overnight may vary from person to person so have a little play with it to find out what works best.
Invest in your own personalised sleep routine
Focussing on yourself and your very own bedtime routine an hour or two before bedtime is the ultimate step to ensure sleep success! I am a huge believer that finding a bedtime routine that works best for you is so individual and takes time to explore. Once mastered a good wind down routine provides the best results in terms of sleep duration and quality. Every person is different and finding the right routine is down to what you find most relaxing and prepares you best for a goodnights sleep.
Getting your routine down like clockwork is key. A consistent night time routine and waking up at the same time each day on both weekdays and weekends is key in ensuring that you consistently achieve your 7-8 hours of sleep every night.
A warm shower can help to initiate that ‘sleepy feeling’. The warmth causes blood vessel dilation improving circulation to the muscles and skin helping you to fall into bed feeling completely relaxed.
Meditation can be difficult to fit into everyday life but starting off with as little as just 5 mins per day can be a great way to allow your body and mind to relax in preparation for a goodnights sleep. There are so many great apps that you can download which have meditation and sleep practice functions you could try out before bed.
If you’re one of those people that stays up all night worrying about jobs or work, then try write them down before bed. I would recommend doing this a few hours before bedtime to avoid causing anxiety immediately before sleep.
Keep your bed for sleep and one other thing only… Only get into bed when you’re actually feeling tired to avoid creating a negative bedroom mentality and anxiety around trying to fall asleep.
By incorporating physical activity into your day-to-day routine this can help improve your sleep. Many people have reported that they find it easier to get off to sleep and stay asleep for longer after exercising.
The recommended amount of exercise according to Public Health England for a healthy adult is 150 mins or moderate exercise or 75 mins of vigorous exercise plus 2x strength building exercises per week.
Top tip: Pick an exercise that you enjoy doing and commit to it 4-5 per week and you will be more likely to stick with it for long term success!
A late afternoon coffee to perk you up may in fact have a negative impact on your sleep. Caffeine has a half-life of around 3-7 hours following consumption and everyone’s tolerance varies from person to person. Therefore, try and limit drinking caffeinated drinks to mainly first thing in the morning so that you’re not lying in bed wide awake at night.
When to seek help?
Sleep disturbance is a common problem and anyone can experience problems especially when stressed or worried. However, if these issues become persistent and the above steps don’t work, then you may consider completing a sleep diary to allow your GP or sleep expert to analyse your sleep patterns.