Tips for Getting a Good Night's Sleep
Most, if not all of us, struggle to get to sleep at some point in our lives. For some, this can be short-lived, but for others, not being able to sleep may be a longer-lasting problem.
Whilst we are not medical professionals and so cannot offer any specific advice (nor do we claim that this advice is exhaustive, either!) - there are a few things that everyone can do to develop good sleeping habits.
Your sleeping environment
When it's dark, your body releases a hormone called melatonin, which helps you to drift off to sleep. You could invest in black-out blinds or use an eye mask if you find that it isn't dark enough in your bedroom.
This can be especially hard if you live somewhere like an inner city (or perhaps if you have a very noisy sleeping partner!) but using foam earplugs, or even recorded 'white noise' may help you to block out unwanted noise for a more restful night.
A room temperature of around 16-18°C is usually recommended for a good night's sleep. But try modifying the temperature so it suits you perfectly: use the right duvet tog rating duvet for the season; layer up with blankets or sheets that are easily removed if you get too hot.
Free from distractions
This is one of the biggest culprits! Never before have we had so many gadgets, all demanding our attention: alerting us to an email; a tweet; a new photo of your friend's cat... The list goes on.
Whilst being so connected to our loved ones can be wonderful, being able to switch off and wind down is an important part of being able to sleep.
Turn your room into a calm haven: turn off your phone, avoid letting a computer or TV find their way into your room. Learn to associate your bedroom with relaxation and sleep.
There are a number of things we can do to promote a healthy lifestyle that can, in turn, improve the quality of our sleep. This includes the following:
Keep to a schedule
This helps our bodies to learn when we should be tired, helping us to feel ready for bed at the right time.
Drinks such as coffee and tea (that contain caffeine), or cigarettes (which contain nicotine) can keep us from feeling sleepy. Caffeine can even cause problems with sleeping ten to twelve hours after you have consumed it! Avoiding stimulants after mid-afternoon can help you get a more restful night's sleep.
Reduce alcohol intake
Despite making you feel sleepy, alcohol actually reduces sleep quality and can make you wake up in the night. Limiting your intake may help you in achieving better quality and more restful sleep, not to mention helping you to feel brighter (and headache-free!) the morning after!
Avoid eating late
We know that sneaky evening snacks can be all too tempting sometimes! However, eating too close to bedtime, particularly spicy or fatty foods, can reduce sleep quality.
If you're really peckish, eating carbohydrate-based foods containing the amino acid tryptophan can actually promote sleep. Examples of foods high in tryptophan are turkey, bananas, peanuts, oats, milk and yoghurt. So, cereal with milk, peanut butter on toast, or even a small turkey sandwich can all help to release this sleepiness-inducing chemical.
Take time to wind down
Notice how we create bedtime routines for babies and children? We might give them an evening bath, a warm drink and story time before we say goodnight. Just because you're no longer a child doesn't mean you don't need some kind of routine too!
Why not try doing something calming in the evening to create a relaxing bedtime ritual for yourself?
Take regular exercise
With so many of us now working in sedentary jobs, it has never been more essential to take regular exercise.
There are literally hundreds of benefits that exercise offers. Aside from improving both our physical and mental health, regular exercise may improve sleep quality.
Providing you don't exercise too close to bedtime (which may wake you up rather than make you feel sleepy!) exercise is a great way to help you to drift off more easily.
Our lives can be busy and stressful, and this can affect the quality of our sleep. We might find it difficult to wind down in the evenings, or we might find ourselves not able to fall asleep, despite being really tired.
The next day we can feel exhausted and certainly not at our best. We might take a nap, or drink too many caffeinated drinks to help us stay alert. This may serve only to make sleeping the following night even more of a struggle!
Whilst people can experience stress in different ways, there are some things we can do to help reduce our stress levels and feel better. Spending a little bit of time each day doing something to relax may help.
Here are a few suggestions that you could try:
- Spend time with a good friend
- Watch a comedy
- Go for a relaxing walk
- Read a good book
- Listen to your favourite music
- Take a bath
It could be, however, that you need to take a closer look at the aspects of your life that are causing you stress and sleeping difficulties.
If you are at all concerned with any difficulties you may have with stress or sleeping, it is always a good idea to seek professional help.
Are you getting a good night's sleep anywhere but your own bed?! It might be time for a change.
The Sleep Council recommend changing your bed and mattress every seven years. However,
- a worn-out, lumpy mattress
- waking up with a sore back
- tossing and turning more than usual at night
... can all be signs that you need to invest in a new bed and mattress sooner.
Ensuring that you have a comfortable, supportive mattress and bed is vital for a good night's sleep. After all, we spend approximately a third of our lives asleep!
Maybe you're not getting a good night's sleep because your bed is not big enough for your needs.
Did you know that a double bed only offers each person the same personal space as a cot-bed?! You may want to consider a king-size bed if you have the space.
Why not check out our page, what size mattress do I need? for further advice and information.
Perhaps your mattress no longer offers you the right level of support.
Firmness preference is a highly personal choice. You might like to visit our page, what firmness is right for me? for more help and advice.
We can help!
With options such as memory foam, pocket springs or even natural fillings, there's something for everyone. Why not take a look at our huge range and let us help you create the best night's sleep, night after night.
Do you need further advice?
If so, why not check out our other advice pages? Here are some sections that you might find useful:
- Mattress Buying Advice for Women
- Sleep Tips for a Bad Back
- Mattress Buying Advice for the Older Customer
- When Should I Change my Mattress?
Seeking further help
Sleeping difficulties could have underlying causes, and it may be helpful to get further advice and support from your doctor if you are concerned about this.