Sleep is one of the most important components of good health, yet approximately a third of the UK population struggles to get a good night’s sleep. Over the past few decades, both sleep quality and quantity have declined. Around a quarter of the population are getting less than five hours of sleep a night.
There are many factors that can interfere with your sleep, from stress and emotions to diet and devices, but the good news is that the vast majority of sleep issues can be improved, if not completely fixed, by making small changes to your lifestyle.
Here are 7 tips to get better sleep at night:
1. Set a sleep schedule
Go to bed and wake up at the same time everyday, including weekends. This reinforces your body’s sleep-wake cycle and can help make it easier for you to fall asleep and wake up.
Also, the earlier you get to bed, the better you will feel. The liver conducts its detox work generally between the hours of 11pm-2am. If you are not asleep during this time, it may disturb the natural cleansing process, and as a result you may feel sluggish.
2. Dim your lights an hour before bedtime
This is to allow the release of melatonin, a hormone which helps control your sleep cycle and promote sleep. Also, try not to use phones, laptops and other devices within 2 hours before bedtime. Most people have their phones in the bedroom beside them, which is disturbing the quality of sleep, whether it’s just checking the time or using it when you can’t sleep. This is because these screens emit blue light which suppresses the release of melatonin, keeping you awake longer.
3. Cut down your caffeine intake
Caffeine, when taken too late in the day, can stimulate your nervous system and may stop your body from naturally relaxing at night, which disrupts your normal sleeping patterns. Caffeine has a quarter life of 12 hours, this means one quarter of the caffeine you consume can still be present in your system 12 hours later.
4. Try to stop eating at least 3 hours before bedtime
Overeating in the evening can cause sleeping difficulties as it can force your digestive system to work hard at a time when you want to rest. Try to avoid eating heavy or large meals within 3 hours before bedtime.
Daily exercise promotes better sleep. The best time for exercise is in the morning. It could be something as simple as going for a walk outside. Expose yourself to natural light as soon as you wake up, this helps regulate your sleep-wake cycle and can help improve the quality of your sleep.
Also, it works both ways – an increase in sleep increases your motivation to exercise and an increase in exercise helps you to sleep better.
6. Relax before bed
Daily tension and stress are major obstacles to falling asleep. Try implementing a relaxation technique before bed, such as deep breathing or meditation.
Meditation helps to relax the body, quieten the mind and helps you fall back asleep easily. Focus on your breathing rather than your thoughts and this will help improve the quality of sleep.
7. Ensure your bedroom is at the right temperature
If your bedroom is too hot or too cold, this can greatly affect your sleep quality. Hence, ensure your bedroom is at a moderate temperature for optimal sleep. Interestingly, a lower body temperature at night helps you fall asleep quicker and stay asleep longer.
Sleep is just as important as healthy eating and exercise. It impacts every aspect of your health, such as your mood, memory and even your weight. Eating better, moving more and getting more natural light can lead to much better quality sleep, and as a result of this you will be more attentive and focused during the day. Therefore, try and make sleep a priority in your life and incorporate some of the tips above to see which one works for you.