Do you struggle to sleep? A good night’s rest is essential for both mental and physical wellbeing – and sleep tips and practices are vital. By limiting certain food and drink, clearing a busy mind and ensuring you have a comfortable and supportive bed, you can dramatically improve the quality of your sleep – so you wake up feeling refreshed and energised in the morning.
We’ve got eight sleep tips to ensure that you settle in for the perfect snooze…
rethink that afternoon cuppa
That afternoon latte sure does hit the spot, but it could be the difference between sleeping soundly and hardly sleeping. Caffeine stays in your body much longer than you think. “Caffeine can be in your system for more than six hours, depending on your sensitivity, so resist that coffee urge after 2pm,“ explains sleep expert Christine Hansen.
Beware of other products that may contain caffeine, such as tea, chocolate, hot chocolate and fizzy drinks.
limit your vino intake
Although alcohol may make you feel sleepy, it can dehydrate you and worsen the quality of your sleep – so you wake up feeling sluggish. You might find you also need to get up in the night to go to the loo (because alcohol is a diuretic) and it can make snoring worse. Avoid drinking alcohol too close to bedtime and always alternate drinks with hydrating water.
“Staying active not only makes you feel good, it has an impressive impact on sleep quality,” suggests Christine. Make sure you spend some of the day on the move, whether it’s walking to work or heading to the gym. Or try yoga. It connects the mind and body, which is crucial to diffusing physical and mental stress and can be a great tool to improve sleep. Getting hot and sweaty is great, but try not to leave it too late. Post-exercise, an increased body temperature and rush of hormones may hinder sleep.
create your ideal sleep space
It’s worth investing in a calming space for you to fall asleep more easily. Most experts agree that your bedroom should be dark, comfortable and quiet. Keep walls neutral (if that’s your thing) and ditch the clutter. Of course we’re going to say this, but it’s worth investing in high-quality, comfortable sleep products. Trust us. A mattress (like this one here), breathable sheets (like these ones here) and a supportive pillow (ahem) can make all the difference. Try to ensure your body stays cool, supported in all the right places and comfortable all night long.
Sleep research has shown that blue light from smart phones, tablets, and computer screens can put our circadian rhythm out of whack and impact sleep. Essentially, blue light through the optic nerve tells your brain that it is still daytime. Avoid using technology too close to bedtime, or download a blue light filter.
find a routine – and stick to it
Ideally go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning. Obviously there will be times when you break your routine, such as a late-night, or travel. In fact, you might want to…
…find a pre-sleep routine, too
Whether it’s lighting a candle, making a cup of herbal tea or reading a magazine, leave an hour before bed to relax and wind down. If you’ve only got half an hour, pick one of your favourite things to do. This time allows you to activate the ‘alpha’ brainwaves – the ones that make you feel sleepy.
And because we’re creatures of habit, your pre-bed ritual needs to happen regularly.
clear your mind before sleep
When your head hits the pillow, do you get lost in a train of thought or start thinking the worst? “Whenever a negative thought creeps into your head, write down whatever is bothering you – it’ll help to diffuse negative thinking,” advises Christine.
Or, start a gratitude journal by writing down three positive experiences from your day. From the little to the large – it’s a good way to make you feel more light-hearted before bed.