Sleep: it’s something that we don’t really appreciate the value of until we stop getting the amount we need.
But if you’re a new parent or have a hectic schedule that stops you from getting the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep each night, you’ll know that lack of sleep can affect pretty much every area of your life, from your relationships to your work and your health.
Here are some helpful tips on how you can reform your sleep habits, and get a good night’s sleep ever night.
Understanding the way our body works while we sleep can be very helpful to establishing good sleep habits. We often think of sleep as being one homogenous state, but there’s a lot more to it than that.
As shown in this Time4Sleep Sleep Physiology tool, we sleep in cycles, each of which is made up of five distinct stages, which affect different parts of our bodies in different ways. If you fail to sleep for between seven and nine hours in a night, you miss out on the many benefits of each of these sleep phases, such as long-term memory storage and the replenishing of physical and mental energy.
Create a relaxing sleep environment
One of the major problems that our sleep routine faces is the increasingly multi-functional nature of our bedrooms. From watching films on laptops to taking office calls, we now tend to associate our bedrooms with many functions, meaning that sleep is often squeezed out of the picture. Reclaim your bedroom for sleep by banning all gadgets from your sleep space and creating the most relaxing atmosphere possible. This will send a signal to your brain that it’s time to wind down as soon as you enter your bedroom.
Stick to a routine
In our day-to-day life, sticking to a regimented routine might equate to boredom, but when it comes to sleep, there’s nothing better for your health than getting the same amount of sleep each night, at the same time. Set up a sleep routine for yourself that allows you to get between seven and nine hours sleep each night – if you have kids it’s important to get them in the habit of following a strict sleep routine too.
Exercising on a regular basis can be a great way to relieve some of the tension built up throughout the day, allowing you to get a peaceful night’s sleep. The NHS recommends moderate exercise such as swimming or walking, but you should avoid vigorous exercise close to bedtime as this might keep you awake.
Modify your diet
If you have a diet that includes a lot of caffeine – tea, coffee and some fizzy drinks – or alcohol, you should consider cutting down on these, particularly in the hours before bedtime. Stimulants are known to interfere with the process of falling asleep and prevent you from falling into deep sleep, which is the point at which your body works to restore and refresh itself. If you like to have a hot drink before bed, switch to a glass of warm milk or some herbal tea.
What tips would you give for a good night’s sleep?