Posted on: 25 August 2021
If you’re struggling to switch off, try these top tips for getting a good night’s sleep.
1. Know your sleep style
Are you a lark or an owl? Larks go to bed between 8pm and 10pm and wake between 4am and 6am. Owls sleep between 11pm and 8am. It can be tricky if for instance you’re an owl, but your partner is a lark, as both your sleep patterns will suffer. Follow your own rhythm as much as possible. Keep to a consistent wake-up time, and don’t lie in on your day off.
2. Balanced breakfast
If you feel tired all the time, sleep may not be the only problem. It’s important to stabilise blood sugar levels when you wake up, so energy doesn’t peak and trough during the day. It’s easy to get into a vicious cycle of feeling tired – grabbing a sugary snack – crashing again – more snacking – and so on.
Choose a breakfast which will give you slow-release energy, like eggs, wholegrain toast, or porridge. For more ideas, check out 7 ways to supercharge your workday breakfast.
3. Check the temperature
A common mistake people make is having their bedroom too hot. 16° to 18° is considered ideal. If it’s a warm summer night and that’s not possible, just try to make sure your bedroom is cooler than the rest of the house. Keeping curtains closed during the day can help.
4. Stay active, stay hydrated
Regular exercise boosts your wellbeing and therefore the quality of sleep – it has the ability to reduce anxiety, which often disrupts sleep patterns. Going to bed even mildly dehydrated can result in snoring and blocked nasal passages, not to mention leg cramps, which can all disrupt sleep.
5. Change your mindset
Focus on the quality of your sleep rather than the quantity. We can obsess over the amount of sleep we’ve had, but everybody has different needs, so don’t worry if you only manage five hours. If you still feel alert at 11am, that’s a sign you’ve had enough rest.
6. Eat earlier in the day
Eating late at night disturbs your natural cycle. Try not to eat less than three hours before bed to allow your digestive system to rest while you sleep. Get to know your body – many people find that spicy foods and alcohol disturb their sleep.
7. Keep your bedroom for sleeping
Sleep problems existed long before the invention of the smartphone but the blue light they emit makes our brain think it’s still daytime, making it harder to drop off. In particular, avoid apps which might trigger a rise in heart rate, like social media or reading work emails.
Your bedroom is a sanctuary – a safe space where you go to rejuvenate. Ideally, leave screens out of the bedroom and use an old-fashioned clock instead of your phone for timekeeping.
8. Relax if you wake in the night
A common complaint is waking up during the night, then panicking about feeling tired the next day, which in turn makes it harder to get back to sleep. Relax – waking up in the night is perfectly natural. We’d be extinct as a species if we didn’t check the cave was safe during the night!
If you do wake, avoid checking the time, as this will bring you to full consciousness. Instead, place your hands on your belly, feel the weight of them, come back into your body and ease yourself into rest.
9. Get your heart rate down
To sleep well, we need a drop in heart rate as well as core temperature. It’s important to put a routine in place that tells our body it’s time to wind down. Drinking a cup of herbal tea, having a cool shower, or listening to an audiobook at the same time every night is good way to get your mind and body ready for bed.
10. Rethink your bedding
Does your partner hog the duvet? Couples could consider sleeping with a separate duvet each to eliminate this problem and to allow for different body temperatures. Likewise, make sure you have a supportive pillow that suits your sleep position – front, back or side. Man-made fibre pillows are often better than feather filled ones as the latter can shift during the night and may not support your neck properly.
Enjoyed this? Read more tips on Getting a good night’s sleep.