Free Article – Tips for a Good Night’s Sleep
Proven tools to improve your sleep patterns
Key learning outcomes:
- Recognise the contribution of good quality sleep to a healthy and productive lifestyle.
- Develop a nightly routine consisting of sleep-inducing activities.
- Acknowledge the benefit of regular exercise in establishing regular sleep patterns.
- Adopt a practice of minimising the use of electronic devices before you go to bed.
It is no secret that getting a good night’s sleep is essential to our overall wellbeing. When we sleep our bodies and minds switch off and repair. We are then able to face the next day in the best possible way. However, sometimes getting a good night’s rest is easier said than done as the pressures and complications of work and life can interfere. If you are feeling a bit under the weather, short-tempered or just worn out, it may be that your sleep routine needs an overhaul. This article will take you through some tried and tested tips and techniques to help get you back on the right track.
Stick to a schedule
Our bodies work best with a routine; therefore, if you can get into a habit of going to bed at the same time every night and waking up at the same time every morning, you will regulate your body clock and get a better night’s rest. Ideally, this will become a daily routine, regardless of whether you have to get up for work.
Create a bedtime routine
Think about creating a set of activities as part of a relaxing bedtime routine. You might dim the lights, play some relaxing music, do some deep breathing or have a warm bath or shower. Whatever it is, the key is to try and carry out the routine at the same time each night so your body responds positively.
Regular exercise is proven to help promote regular sleep patterns and better quality sleep. Ideally, it should be vigorous activity; however, any exercise will help. The good news is that you do not need to exercise for hours on end to get the benefits – just 10 or 15 minutes every day will help you to sleep more soundly. One thing to be mindful of is not to exercise too close to bedtime. Try to allow for at least an hour or two between exercising and going to bed.
Watch what you eat
It will come as no surprise that going to bed too full or hungry can cause you to have a disturbed night sleep. It is best to try and eat at least two or three hours before bedtime and to avoid overly spicy or heavy food. If you are hungry late at night and need to eat, try eating at least 45 minutes before going to bed and keep your meal light and easy to digest.
Once again this one will not come as any great surprise. Stimulants such as coffee and tea can keep you up all night and are best avoided after dark. However, you might be surprised to learn that for some people, an early afternoon coffee may still be in their system by bedtime and might be the cause of their insomnia. If you are having trouble sleeping, try cutting out all coffee and tea in the afternoon. Switch to herbal tea if you need a warm drink after noon.
Limit your alcohol
Having a nightcap or a few drinks in the evening can work to help relax you and send you off to sleep. The problem is that alcohol will adversely affect the quality of your sleep and this can leave you feeling drained and tired in the morning.
Say no to naps
Poor quality sleep can cause a catch-22 situation. You can be left feeling so tired that you need a nap or two to get you through the day. The problem is that you don’t feel tired at bedtime which wreaks havoc with your body clock. It becomes a vicious cycle that is hard to break. There is merit in having a power nap to boost productivity, but try to limit any nap to less than 30 minutes to ensure you are not compromising your night-time sleep.
Turn down the heat
Our body temperature drops in preparation for sleep and we respond best to a cooler room for good quality rest. Try to keep the room temperature regulated between 16 and 20 degrees Celsius, or 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit, to promote a good night’s sleep. Interestingly, if you are having trouble sleeping, putting on a pair of socks or putting a hot water bottle at your feet will actually help to regulate your body temperature more quickly.
Think like a caveman
Your room should be dark and quiet like a cave and you should wake to the sunrise. You can help to work with your natural circadian rhythms by keeping the lights dim at night and by exposing yourself to bright light in the morning. Getting 10 to 15 minutes of sunlight in the morning is one of the best ways to kick start your body clock.
For a good night’s rest it is best to power off all of your devices at least an hour or two before bed. This will give your brain time to slow down and will allow your mindset to switch from work to rest mode. Avoid watching TV, reading emails or engaging in social media before bed (or worse, in bed) as this will only work to stimulate you rather than put your mind into sleep mode. Don’t forget to turn off any alerts on your laptop or smartphone, as these are likely to wake you up during the night.
Invest in your sleep environment
The quality of your mattress and pillow can make or break a good night’s sleep. If you find that you are tossing and turning all night, it might have less to do with your routine and more to do with your bed. Being comfortable is essential to good quality sleep; it is also wise to evict pets and children from the bed as much as possible as both can work to disrupt your sleep.
Get back out of bed
There is no point tossing and turning all night if you really cannot get to sleep. You are better to get out of bed and go to another room. Keep the lights dim and do something quiet and relaxing until you feel tired and ready for bed. A warm bath is a great option as this can help to send you to sleep. The warm water will help to relax you, and even though your body temperature will rise, it falls quickly once you get out of the bath – this replicates the drop in body temperature when you are preparing to sleep, helping to send you off to the land of nod.
Without doubt, getting adequate sleep and rest can make a huge difference to our quality of life and productivity at work. Long-term sleep problems are likely to have an impact on your health and wellbeing and need to be addressed. If you find that none of these tips and tricks improves your sleep routine, we suggest that you seek some professional help. The best place to start is usually your local doctor who can help to identify the underlying causes of your sleep issues.Did you enjoy this complimentary article?
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