Lack of sleep or disturbed sleep patterns can affect our day-to-day life, and whilst sleep is one of the most important attributes to our health and wellbeing, it’s becoming more and more common that people aren’t making sleep a priority.
With all the stresses of modern day life, it’s not always easy to get a good night’s sleep and The Sleep Council’s studies show that 40% of people in Britain are suffering from sleep issues.
If you find yourself counting sheep most nights, here are our top 5 tips to help you become a better sleeper.
1. Set A Sleep Schedule
Our bodies crave routine and sticking to a consistent slumber schedule is key to maintaining quality sleep. Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day - even on weekends and holidays - will help regulate your internal body clock, and should see you falling asleep far more easily. When you set a bedtime, make sure it’s early enough for you to get at least the recommended 7 hours of shut-eye per night. If you’re tossing and turning in the night, as tempting as it might be, don’t clock watch - it will only stress you out and make it harder to sleep. Give it some time - if you’re still struggling, head into another room and do something calming until you feel sleepy.
2. Establish A Relaxing Evening Ritual
Kick off your bedtime routine by doing something you find relaxing. Whether it’s light yoga stretches, taking a bubble bath, curling up with a good book or listening to soothing music, a calming activity will help your body know that it’s time to start settling down for the night. Switch off all electronic screens - TV, laptop, tablet, smartphone – around an hour before bed, since they can keep your mind (and body) awake.
3. Be Active - But Not Before Bed
Research shows that exercise can dramatically improve your sleep. Just 10 minutes of aerobic activity (walking, cycling, running) can help you get better slumber, so why not try incorporating daily workouts into your weekly schedule. For better sleep, it’s recommended that you finish moderate to vigorous exercise at least three hours before bedtime.
4. Pay Attention To What You Eat And Drink
Caffeine and nicotine can linger in the body for hours, making it trickier to get to sleep – and stay asleep. If you can, steer clear of them both for four to six hours before you hit the hay. While alcohol can initially make you feel drowsy, studies have shown that it leads to disruptive sleep, so try and cut back in the evening. Also, avoid heavy and spicy meals late on, and ease up on the liquids so you’re not waking up for toilet breaks in the middle of the night.
5. Make Your Bedroom Sleep-Friendly
You will need somewhere peaceful to rest your head at night. Your bedroom should be cool (between 18C and 24C), quiet and dark. Consider putting up blackout curtains or using an eye mask as light can keep you awake. Earplugs are a great way to block out noise if you live in a noisy area. Also, don’t forget about your mattress and pillow, they play a huge part in how we sleep. Make sure they are comfortable and supportive. Mattresses should be changed every 8 – 10 years and pillows every 1 to 2 years.
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