Sleep; it’s something we do every night without really thinking, but it’s amazing how off our game we can feel if we don’t get our 40 winks. In fact, according to the NHS, one in three of us suffers from poor sleep.
Not getting enough shut-eye can make you feel like you have ‘brain fog’, leading to a lack in focus. Long-term it can contribute to serious medical conditions, including heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes, as well as affecting your mental health. Not only does it impact our wellbeing, but sleep deprivation also costs the UK economy £40.2 billion, according to the Sleep Council.
Did you know that a good night’s rest boosts your immunity? Although, we understand that during lockdown when you lay your head down on your pillow your mind may start racing. So we’ve put together some tips on how to help you catch-up on those valuable zzzs.
Establish a routine
Try and go to bed at the same time every night; this programmes your brain that it is time to for sleep. To help you drift off and get your body ready for winding down, maybe you could have a warm bath, do some gentle stretches before getting into bed or write your worries down in a journal? Alternatively, you could try spraying your pillow with a calming lavender spray, which may help you to relax and fall asleep.
Create a sleep haven
Your sleeping environment can contribute to a good or bad night’s rest; temperature, lighting, noise and our mattress can all have a positive or negative impact on our sleep. Your body temperature actually drops when you’re asleep, 16 to 18°C is thought to be the perfect temperature for sleep.
Did you know when we see light, our bodies think it is time to be awake? As we move into summer, if your room is still light in the evening, you may want to think about investing in some blackout curtains. And, if you’re sensitive to noise when you’re trying to drift off, earplugs may help to block out any disruptive sounds.
Remember the princess who could feel a pea under several mattresses? Well, not quite as dramatic, but if you’re sleeping on a worn or lumpy mattress, you’re likely to wake up still feeling tired and potentially with aches and pains.
It’s a British tradition to drink several cups of tea a day, and in recent years we’ve also become a nation of coffee lovers. However, a study bt the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that consuming caffeine six hours before bed impacted participants’ sleep.
Why not try sticking to caffeinated beverages in the morning and after lunch swapping to a caffeine-free option? There are plenty of delicious herbal teas available. Not into camomile or peppermint tea? Why not try rooibos (redbush)? It’s naturally caffeine-free and you can add milk to it, just like a regular brew.
Get those endorphins going
Have you ever found yourself sleepier hours after working out? Exercising on a regular basis can help you to de-stress from your day. This can help you feel calmer and more relaxed when you come to hit the hay. It’s about finding the best time for you to exercise, whether that’s in the morning or in the evening. Although it is generally recommended not to exercise vigorously one to two hours before bed, as this can have the opposite effect and leave you feeling awake.
Immerse yourself in a book
Remember how our parents used to read us a bedtime story to send us to sleep? Well, reading at night as an adult can have similar effects. By diving into a different world, it gives your mind a rest; this in turn can relax you, helping you to switch off. In fact, the Sleep Council states that 39% of people who regularly read before going to bed sleep ‘very well’.
Have an ‘appy night’s sleep
It seems these days there is an app for everything, and there are even some to help you get some shut-eye. Whether meditation, nature sounds, white noise, a story or relaxing music works for you, there are a wide range of apps out there to help you fall asleep.
Have a digital detox
When you’re in bed, it can be tempting to scroll through social media, text your friends or just respond to that work email, but the blue light on your phone or tablet could be negatively impacting your slumber. So, before you tune into your sleep app or or start reading, pop your phone on the night and airplane modes – that way you won’t be disturbed. You could also try not keeping your phone on your bedside table, that way you won’t be tempted to pick it up as you try to get to sleep.
The NHS generally recommends eight hours of rest a night. Although, this is individual, and some may need more and some less. It’s all about finding your ‘sleep sweet spot’, and we hope our tips might help you get a good night’s rest. Sweet dreams.