We’ve all heard the guidelines about getting 8 hours of sleep a night, but a significant percentage of UK adults don’t manage that.
With the added stress of worrying about loved ones or job security due to coronavirus, it can be even harder to get a good night’s rest at the moment.
Sleep is absolutely essential to our wellbeing - both physical and mental. Though we can boost our energy levels with breaks during the day, it’s at night when our bodies really get the chance to repair and restore.
Knowing that sleep is so important but being aware you’re not getting enough can create even more stress, making it harder to fall asleep and creating a vicious cycle.
Here are our top tips for creating the right environment and cultivating the right habits to get the rest you need.
During the day
The foundations for a good night’s sleep are laid during the day.
Staying active and getting enough exercise is a great way to make sure you’ll feel tired at the end of the day and ready to head to bed.
It’s also important to watch your caffeine intake. Caffeine’s half-life is about 5 hours. That means if you had a cup of coffee at 4pm, half of the caffeine would still be in your system at 9pm. Try to limit caffeine intake to the morning and early afternoon to avoid it disturbing your sleep.
During the evening
After the working day, it’s essential to find ways to switch off and relax. What this looks like will be different for everyone, but having enough time to process the day, put aside the stresses and do something you enjoy will help you unwind ready for bed.
Whilst drinking in moderation is ok, keep in mind that alcohol significantly effects sleep quality, keeping us in the lighter stages of sleep rather than much-needed deep sleep.
If you’re having an alcoholic drink, early evening is better to minimise the impact on sleep quality.
Getting ready for bed
We’re creatures of habit: one of the best ways to get more sleep is to create a routine around a fixed bedtime and wake-up time.
As it gets nearer to bedtime, start to fade down artificial lighting, moving from a bright overhead light to a softer lamp.
Avoid watching TV or using other screens, including your phone, for at least an hour before bedtime: the blue light these devices emit can tell our brains it’s time to wake up, not sleep.
Create the right environment
Bedrooms should be a relaxing, calming place to sleep. Setting it up the right way can help you get the quality shut-eye you need.
Firstly, try to minimise any potential distractions, such as noise or light. Using ear plugs or a white noise app can help reduce the chances of you woken up by noise. If your bedroom gets lots of natural light, consider investing in blackout curtains or an eye mask to minimise disruption.
The other thing to consider is temperature. The body regulates its core temperature throughout the different sleep stages.
Being at a cool, comfortable temperature means our bodies don’t have to work as hard to maintain that temperature and can focus instead on resting and repairing. The ideal temperature for a bedroom is between 18 and 24 degrees celsius.