• Karen

Ten Steps To A Better Night's Sleep

Updated: Dec 18, 2021

March 19th is World Sleep Day and the theme for 2021 is "Regular Sleep, Healthy Future."

Given that roughly 75% of UK adults have experienced a change to their sleep patterns over the last year, and 60% of us report disrupted sleep patterns, improving sleep health has to be a priority for most of us.⁠

Poor sleeping can affect our general heath in many ways and negatively impact on our ability to function.


Improved sleep patterns can result in: ⁠




INCREASED⁠

  • Energy⁠

  • Concentration⁠

  • Learning capacity⁠

  • Immune function⁠

  • Life expectancy⁠

  • Memory⁠

  • Healthier food choices, and⁠




DECREASED⁠

  • Risk of obesity⁠

  • Risk of Alzheimer's Disease⁠

  • Risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes⁠

  • Risk of other chronic diseases ⁠



Self-Portrait by Iranian textile artist Maryam Ashkanian

Ideally, we should

  • Wake up feeling refreshed⁠ every morning

  • Wake up naturally (without an alarm) within 30 mins of the same time each day, and

  • Fall asleep within 30 mins of trying,⁠

If we don't, we may benefit from an overhaul of our sleep routine to better support our health now, and in the future.


Ten Steps to a Better Night's Sleep


  1. Set your go-to-bed time and wake up time - and stick to it. Try not to fall into the habit of significantly later nights and sleep-ins over the weekend. The resulting social jetlag can dramatically disrupt your circadian rhythm (your body's natural 24-hour clock).

  2. If you enjoy a daytime powernap, limit it to no more than 45 minutes.

  3. Use comfortable bedding. Obvious doesn't make it any less true! When did you last change your mattress or pillow?

  4. Find a temperature that is comfortable for you. Cooler is better, and ensure the room is well ventilated.

  5. Block out distracting noise and eliminate light as much as possible. Ideally, you want total blackout and, if you need a nightlight, go for one with a red hue.

  6. Keep your bedroom as a bedroom. Create a sleeping space by not also using it as a TV room, office, or kids' play area.

  7. Regular exercise is helpful for a good night's sleep but it's best to avoid strenuous activity within 2-3 hours of going to bed.

  8. Avoid excessive alcohol for 4 hours before bed.

  9. Have your last caffeine shot at least 6 hours before to bedtime. So that's ideally avoiding coffee, tea, and many carbonated drinks from 2pm.

  10. Avoid rich, heavy or spicy foods for 4 hours before bedtime. A light snack, 1-2 hours before, is fine and may actually promote sleep by balancing blood sugar levels. Try Greek yogurt and berries, half a banana with nut butter or an apple and cheese.

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