While choosing the correct bed is the most important thing to guarantee sounder sleep, there are a few simple lifestyle changes that will help you drift off to the Land of Nod and wake up feeling refreshed and ready for the day. This Sleep Awareness Week, our Sleep Experts share their top tips.
Set your bedtime routine
Adults benefit from a bedtime routine just as much as children. In a world dominated by 24/7 media and digital technology, it can be hard to switch off but try to make a conscious effort to switch off your digital devices an hour before going to sleep. It will do wonders for your sleep quality and regular breaks from technology are great for resting your eyes and mind.
Mental and emotional stimulation can often keep us awake at night and the blue light emitted from digital devices can reduce levels of the melatonin hormone which is needed to help us drop into deep, relaxing sleep.
Keep your bedroom nice and cool – it’s a much better environment to sleep in. Taking a relaxing bath, dimming the lights or reading a book will also help to prepare your body for sleep.
Daily habits for better sleep
Get outdoors! Natural daylight sends a strong signal to your natural circadian rhythm. Exposing yourself to natural light (and fresh air) throughout the day helps you sleep better in the evening.
For many people caffeine after lunchtime can negatively impact their sleep. It can take several hours to fully digest and process caffeine so try avoiding caffeine in the afternoon if you have trouble switching off and settling into sleep at night. (Don’t forget, caffeine is also present in some chocolate and processed meals).
Food for thought
What you eat affects how you feel and how you sleep so try switching to a lighter evening meal if you have trouble sleeping.
A heavy meal activates digestion which can lead to night-time trips to the bathroom, which can disrupt your sleep.
Finish your meal at least 3 hours before you go to sleep.
Avoid sugar and alcohol before you go to bed.
Try tryptophan-rich foods such as warm milk and bananas. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid which helps our bodies to create serotonin that promotes sleep. Other good sources include dairy, lean poultry (turkey breast), nuts, seeds, honey, and eggs.
Although alcohol is a sedative and can help you fall asleep faster, the quality of your sleep will be greatly affected and your body will not be able to fall into a restorative deep sleep.