How to sleep better at night
Tips to help you sleep better
Continuing this month's Stress Awareness theme, and one of the things that can make even the smallest problem more stressful is lack of sleep. Most adults need between 6 and 9 hours of sleep every night. But how many of us actually achieve that, especially when we are worrying about how our family and friends are coping? Research shows that poor sleep can have negative effects on your hormones, exercise performance, and your brain function. It can also cause weight gain, and increase the risk of getting seriously ill for adults and children.
Getting a regular, good night's sleep on the other hand, can help you eat less and stay healthier. I have recently taken up jogging and I'm doing the 'Couch to 5km' programme. Only a couple of weeks in and although I know I'm making progress, it's hard work getting myself motivated to go running every morning. But then maybe the fact that I don't always sleep very well is one of the reasons for my sporadic lethargy. So it looks like I might learn something from these 'How to Sleep Better' tips myself !
10 Tips for a more restful night
1. Keep regular sleeping hours - I mentioned it at the beginning of this item, and it's that most adults need between 6 and 9 hours of sleep. To keep regular sleeping hours we need to programme our internal body clock to get used to a set routine. Work out what time you need to wake up and then count the hours back so you can can set a regular bedtime schedule. And it's important to try and wake up at the same time every day.
2. Have a sleep-friendly bedroom - Your bedroom needs to be a relaxing environment. However, certain things like the TV, mobile phones, light, noise, and a bad mattress or bed might make the room less relaxing. Apparently, the bedroom needs to be dark, quiet, tidy (?!) and kept between 18c to 24c. I don't know about you, but if the room is too warm I struggle to get to sleep, and if I do nod off, then I'm tossing and turning all night.
3. Make sure your bed is comfortable - It's difficult to get restful sleep on a mattress that's too soft or too hard, or a bed that's too small or old. I can't remember how many mattresses we 'tested' before we bought the one we have now. But it's really comfy, and I'd definitely recommend getting a new mattress from in store rather than online.
4. Regular exercise - moderate exercise every day can hep to relieve stress and tension. But make sure you don't do any vigorous exercise too close to bedtime, as it might keep you awake. Just in case any of you were wondering though, sex is not like other 'vigorous exercise' because it actually makes us sleepy. So that kind of activity is allowed.
5. Cut down on caffeine - Cut down on caffeine in tea, coffee, energy drinks, etc., especially in the evening. Caffeine interferes with the process of falling asleep, and also prevents deep sleep. Have a warm, milky drink or herbal tea instead. Did someone say hot chocolate?
6. Cut down on alcohol - Too much alcohol, especially late at night, can interrupt your sleep. It does with me, because I always need to get up to go to the loo. Seriously though, alcohol might help you to fall asleep initially, but it can disrupt your sleep later in the night.
7. Avoid using electronic devices - avoid using phones, tablets and other electronic devices for at least an hour before you go to bed. The 'blue light' from the screen on these devices can have a negative effect on sleep. I have read about this a lot and there are apps you can download for laptops and mobile devices that can block out the blue light. But try and avoid them altogether, and relax by reading a book or listen to the radio instead.
8. Write a 'To Do' list - I can vouch for this as a way of clearing your head. Writing a list for the next day means you are more organised so it helps clear your mind.
9. Relaxation music - I have found that relaxation CDs work, or some gentle sound effects can help as well. My smartphone actually has some sound effects like running water, leaves rustling and deep space noise. I can set these to play for 15 minutes just as I'm ready to go to sleep and I'm out like a light before it's finished.
10. Wind down - Being able to wind down is critical when you are trying to stick to a sleep schedule. There are lots of ways to relax, but for me 30 minutes to an hour in a warm tub (not too hot) help to relax and unwind. Even if you don't have a hot tub, have a warm shower or relaxing bubble bath. So you get your body in an ideal state for rest and relaxation, and that all important good night's sleep.
Improve your health
Some mornings I'm not even sure what time-zone my body clock is set to, but I'll have to give this a go if I'm going to improve my overall health and fitness levels. As we have a large wooded area next to the house, if our bedroom is going to be 'sleep-friendly' I'll have to buy some earplugs. They'll hopefully block out the noisy owl neighbours (and someone's snoring).
I know it's not always practical to grab an hour in the hot tub every night before bed. So I'd be interested to hear your tips for getting a good night's sleep, especially if you do anything different to the ones mentioned above. In the meantime, keep safe and well, and Happy Hot Tubbing !
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