A good night’s sleep is about more than just going to bed at a sensible hour. Sleep is a somewhat precious commodity and poor sleep habits are all too easy to fall Into. Waking up grumpy should be the least of your worries, though. Poor sleep can also lead to irritability, lower your immune system and make it harder for you to lose weight. Don’t despair though, it isn’t all doom and gloom. If you want to wake up feeling refreshed from a good night of quality sleep then there are a few things that you need to consider.
Routine is important
We are not suggesting that you stick to the same bedtime every night, but getting yourself into a good bedtime routine is a great way to ensure that your body has had a chance to wind down before you go to bed, and this will make It more likely that you will have a restful night’s sleep.
Relatively few people actually manage to adhere to a strict bedtime routine. In fact, according to the Great British Bed Report, carried out by The Sleep Council in 2013, 7% of people in Britain do not have a regular bedtime. A routine is what works for you, so experiment with different bedtimes and see which works best for a good night’s sleep.
A bedtime routine that keeps to a regular pattern will help to program both your internal body clock and your brain and help you get used to a good routine.
Baths and Sleep
In addition to setting yourself a regular bedtime, you may want to consider adding an evening bath to your routine. This can help you relax before bed and therefore make it easier for you to fall asleep. There’s a couple of things to remember though, timing and temperature. Researchers at the University of Texas reviewed over 5,000 studies to look at the link between water-bathing and sleep.
They found that taking a bath 1-2 hours before sleep enabled people to fall asleep faster (on average by 10 minutes) and experiencing better quality sleep once you drop off. This is because naturally, according to our ‘circadian cycle’, the body’s core temperature drops very slightly before falling asleep. You can help this by raising your temperature slightly (with a warm bath) and then allowing yourself to cool before sleeping.
However raising your body temperature too much by having a really steaming bath, is counter-productive. A very hot bath can lead to a sudden spike in your body temperature confusing the body’s central nervous system, inducing sweats and even palpitations and light-headedness! The perfect temperature for a sleep-inducing bath for adults is about 40-42 degrees celsius, so just above body temperature. Children and babies of course will always need a cooler bath.
Essential oils, such as lavender, can also be very good sleep aids, particularly when they are used in the bath as the dispersal in water allows for the skin to absorb them and for you to breathe them in when you inhale. Understanding which ones are right for you is important as some can have specific side effects. There’s more on our Essential Oils section here.
Create the right sleep environment
The right environment can really help when it comes to getting a good night’s sleep. Your bedroom should be a sanctuary; a haven of peace where you can unwind before falling asleep – in an ideal world, anyway. Here are a few things to think about when making sure that your bedroom Is a relaxing environment:
- Ban electronics – TVs, tablets, mobile phones all emit a blue light that can actually keep you awake, so ban them from the bedroom. Watching the news before bedtime can be particularly stressful, especially when there are lots of terrible, worrying things taking place In the world, so If you do have to watch tv – and remember, never In the bedroom – avoid the news!
- Replace your mattress – Sleep Foundation recommends that you replace your mattress roughly every 8 years to ensure that you have a good foundation for sleep.
- Change your bedding – regularly change the sheets on your bed to keep your bedroom fresh – there really Is nothing nicer than slipping Into a bed that has lovely fresh linens on It.
- Temperature – your bedroom should be neither too hot nor too cold. The optimum temperature should be somewhere between 18C and 24C.
- Block out the light – your bedroom should also be nice and dark for a good night’s sleep, so Invest In blackout curtains, blinds and or an eye mask to help block out the light and feel secure. We’ve reviewed and recommended some good ones here..
Get Into some good sleep habits now, and pretty soon you could be getting a good restful night’s sleep.
You might not have heard of sleep hygiene before, and frankly you would not be alone in that. It Is the term given to the variety of habits and practices that are vital In order to get a good night of quality sleep followed by a day of alertness and energy.
Good sleep hygiene means:
- Avoiding naps over 30 minutes in length during the day. Whilst naps can improve your mood and alertness, sleeping for too long during the day can disrupt your night-time routine.
- Avoiding caffeine and nicotine – both of which are stimulants – close to bedtime.
- Remember to exercise – as little as 10 minutes of aerobic exercise every day can really help when It comes to improving your sleep.
- Avoiding certain foods at bedtime – Rich and heavy foods, deep fried food and spicy food are all a bad idea too close to bedtime as they can sit very heavily in the stomach and make It difficult to get to sleep.
- Get some natural light – ensuring that you get adequate natural light during the daytime can really help to give you a good sleep-wake cycle.
We can’t guarantee that these tips will give you the perfect night’s sleep every night but incorporating some healthy habits into your bedtime routine should help you sleep better.
For more on what to drink before bedtime – read our suggestions of the best bedtime drinks here.