Seven tips to help you have a better night’s sleep

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 catch 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, and 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? However, we understand that right now during lockdown when your lay your head down on your pillow your mind might be racing, so we’ve put together some tips on how to help you catch 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 go to 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 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, so 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 the summer, if your room is still light on an 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.

Go caffeine-free
It’s a British intuition to have a cup of tea several times a day, and in recent years we’ve also become a nation of coffee drinkers. However, in a study, the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that consuming caffeine six hours before bed impacted participants’ sleep.

Why not try sticking to your caffeinated beverages in the morning and after lunch swap 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, which could help you to feel calmer and more relaxed when you come to hit the hay. It’s about finding the right time to exercise that works for you, whether that’s in the morning or on an evening. Though it is generally recommended not to vigorously exercise 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 on a night as an adult can have similar effects. By diving into a different world, it gives your mind a rest; this in turn relaxes 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 ones 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 that can help you fall asleep.

Have a digital detox
When you’re in bed, it can be tempting to scroll through social media, text your friend back 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 read a book, pop your phone on the night and airplane modes – that way you won’t be disturbed. You could also try keeping your phone away from your bedside table, so you won’t be tempted to pick it up as you try to go to sleep.

The NHS generally recommends eight hours of rest a night; though, 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 help you get a good night’s rest. Sweet dreams.