Ten Steps To A Better Night's Sleep
Updated: Feb 26
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.
Improving your sleep can result in:
Your concentration levels
Your learning capacity
Your immune function
Your life expectancy
Your short & long term memory
Your likelihood of making healthier food choices, and
Your risk of obesity
Your risk of Alzheimer's Disease
Your risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes
Your risk of other chronic diseases, and
Your pain perception thresholds
Your mood swings imbalances Self-Portrait by Iranian textile artist Maryam Ashkanian
Your levels of inflammation
Ideally, you want to be
Waking up feeling refreshed every morning
Waking up naturally (without an alarm) within 30 mins of the same time each day, and
Falling asleep within 20-30 mins of trying,
If that isn't the case, you might benefit from an overhaul of your sleep routine to better support your health now, and into the future.
Why not try introducing one or more of these ten tips as a starting point?
Ten Steps to a Better Night's Sleep
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).
If you enjoy a daytime powernap, limit it to no more than 45 minutes.
Use comfortable bedding. Obvious doesn't make it any less true! When did you last change your mattress or pillow?
Find a temperature that is comfortable for you. Cooler is better, and ensure the room is well ventilated.
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.
Keep your bedroom as a bedroom. Create a sleeping space by not also using it as a TV room, office, or kids' play area.
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.
Avoid excessive alcohol for 4 hours before bed.
Have your last caffeine shot at least 6 hours before to bedtime. So that's ideally avoiding coffee, tea, and most carbonated drinks from 2pm.
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.