Many of us have trouble sleeping at some point in our lives. Here are ten ways to improve your quality of sleep...
Many of us have problems sleeping, and this can affect how we function on a day to day basis. We often think that we will eventually start sleeping properly again, and use wrong methods such as drinking in the evening to sleep.
Here are ten ways to improve your sleep.
Set a regular bedtime and waking up time
Going to bed at the same time every night will get you into a consistent routine.
When deciding on a time to go to sleep, make sure it’s around a time that you are naturally tired, so that you don’t become irritable and toss and turn for hours.
Try to wake up at the same time each day, too. If you are getting enough sleep your body should act as a natural alarm clock waking you up at a similar time each morning.
To ensure that your sleeping routine continues to work, try not to break your sleeping pattern over the weekends, as this can throw off your sleeping pattern for the rest of the week.
Let light regulate your natural sleeping pattern
You may have noticed that during the daytime you are much more awake, and in the evenings you are naturally tired. If you have ever done night work, you’ll know how hard it is to stay awake. This is due to the hormone Melatonin.
Melatonin is a natural hormone which is controlled by the exposure of light. In the evening when it becomes darker, your brain releases more Melatonin, making you feel tired, and during the daytime when it’s light less Melatonin is released, making you feel awake.
Make time every day to ensure you get enough light during the daytime, this will help with your sleeping pattern.
If you work inside, make time to have regular breaks out in the sunlight, as this will remind your brain that it doesn’t need to release Melatonin. Use this same principle when it comes to sleeping. Make sure that you are in a dark room, without the TV or lights on, and this will help your brain understand it’s time to sleep and will release Melatonin.
Get regular exercise
Exercising has many benefits, including reducing stress and anxiety, losing weight, and sleeping.
Just 20 minutes of exercise a day will help you sleep. This doesn’t have to be vigorously or all in one go, it can be done in 5-10 minute sections.
Exercises such as yoga and gentle stretching will also help you sleep.
Have a healthy diet
Having a healthy diet will make a considerable amount of difference to how well you sleep. Different types of food and drinks can cause sleep problems, so here are a few things to avoid:
Don’t drink alcohol in the evening
A Lot of people rely on alcohol before bed to help them sleep, however alcohol actually ruins sleep. Although alcohol makes you fall asleep faster, it reduces the quality of your sleep and will often result in you waking up during the night.
Have small meals in the evening
Having big meals before bed, especially fatty ones, can cause problems when you are trying to sleep. Try to avoid eating at least two hours before you go to bed.
Staying away from spicy and acidic foods is also recommended, especially if you are prone to having heartburn or stomach upset.
Control your anxiety levels
Anxiety and stress is one of the biggest offenders in keeping you awake at night. Managing your anxiety and stress levels is very important.
Try using mindfulness or other techniques, such as deep breathing, to find out which techniques suit you best.
For more information on managing anxiety and stress, read our Top Tips to Reduce Anxiety blog.
Cut down on caffeine
Did you know that caffeine can cause sleeping problems 12 hours after drinking it?
Cutting back on your caffeine, or drinking decaffeinated drinks from early afternoon can improve your quality of sleep.
Keep your bedroom cool
Keeping your room at a cool 18 degrees will help towards a better night sleep.
Make sure there is enough ventilation and fresh air in your bedroom whilst you are in bed and sleeping. This will keep you from being irritable and allow you to have a good nights sleep.
Make sure you’re comfortable
Sleeping in an uncomfortable bed will prevent you from having a good sleep. Waking up with aches and pains can affect your daytime routine too. Make sure you invest in a comfortable mattress so that you can feel well throughout the day and look forward to having a quality sleep in the evening.
Associate your bed with sleeping
Many of us get into bed and spend several hours watching TV, playing on our laptops and Ipads and looking at our phones.
Try to get rid of any distractions when you are in bed and make sure you are in a dark room. Your brain will soon understand that getting into bed means sleep, allowing your body to relax and your brain to release Melatonin.
Create a bedtime ritual
Many of us have certain activities that make us feel tired, such as reading a book, taking a bath or listening to relaxing music.
Find what works for you and create a bedtime routine, for example, if you struggle to sleep but know that a bath relaxes you, take a bath just before bed, so your body is ready to relax.