Want to maximise that snoozing potential? Here are our top tips for getting a restful night’s sleep:
Keep a set routine
Having a bedtime routine and sticking to it is very important for a good night’s sleep. Routines will vary from person to person but chose something that works for you and your lifestyle. “Regularity is very important,” sleep expert Professor Matthew Walker says, “You need to go to bed and wake up at approximately the same time every day, no matter whether it’s a weekday or the weekend.” Keeping a sleep diary might also help you to uncover lifestyle habits or daily activities that contribute to your sleeplessness.
Perfect your bedroom environment
Experts claim there's a strong association in people's minds between sleep and the bedroom, however certain things weaken that association, such as TVs and other electronic gadgets, light, noise, or a bad mattress or bed. For a restful night’s sleep, your bedroom should be dark, quiet, cool and tidy. Dr Neil Stanley, an independent sleep expert who has been involved in sleep research for 36 years, explains how you can improve your sleep with your bedding choices too, “Bedclothes made from natural fibres can play a role in helping you regulate your temperature during the night. Natural fibres will wick away moisture during the night and thus will help make you feel more comfortable.”
Make sure you’re relaxed
Winding down is a critical stage in preparing for bed. From a hot bath, to relaxation exercises and light stretches, to listening to gentle music, there are loads of ways to calm your mind before you hit the hay. If you’re feeling anxious, why not try writing a ‘Worry Journal’ to get things off your mind? Or even making a To Do list for the next day to organise your thoughts and clear your mind of any distractions.
As well as getting those endorphins flowing, moderate exercise on a regular basis such as swimming or walking can also help relieve tension built up during the day and aid sleep. However, it’s important to stay away from exercise for the last hour before bed, Professor Matthew Walker explains, “Exercise increases your body temperature and that stops you from sleeping.”
Cut the caffeine
Too much caffeine towards the end of the day is known to lead to poor sleep quality. Caffeine has a ‘quarter-life’ of 12 hours, this means if you have coffee at 12 in the afternoon - a quarter of the caffeine is still active at midnight! Try to switch your evening tea, coffee, and soft drinks to warm milky drinks or herbal teas instead. Where possible, you should also try to avoid taking medications that contain caffeine in the evening (consult your doctor before making these changes).