Right now it is more important than ever to ensure you are taking care of yourself physically, mentally and emotionally. Sleep is a key element of your overall health and wellbeing, when you sleep, your body heals and repairs itself.
Sleep strengthens your immune system, helps you maintain a healthy weight, and lowers your risk for serious health health conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.
The quality of your sleep impacts upon your mood and your memory. While you sleep, your brain forms new pathways to help you remember information, supporting better comprehension and problem-solving skills. Research also shows that a good night’s sleep can help you feel less anxious and calmer which is key for so many of us right now.
Here are my top tips for getting the best night’s sleep.
Set up a bedtime routine and stick to it
This can be difficult to do if you have commitments like shift work or children but if you can go to bed at the same time each night and wake up at the same time each morning (give or take 30mins) you create a framework for the body’s internal clock to expect rest at a certain time encouraging more energy in the waking hours.
Creating a habitual routine to get yourself off to sleep really helps, that might include a bath or shower with your favourite relaxing products, giving your pillow a spritz of pillow spray or relaxing with some meditation with your favourite eye masks or candle. Create a routine that works for you.
Create a cool and comfortable environment for sleep
If you can, block out all natural and artificial light when you sleep, complete darkness helps the body transition into a deep relaxing sleep. Also, the room should be quiet, cool and comfortable. Invest in comfortable bedclothes and ensure you are as cosy as you can be. Studies have shown that the correct temperature to have the room at for optimal sleep is 18deg C.
Screens off one hour before bed
It is super important to switch off all screens one hour before you settle down to sleep. Not only are phones, laptops and tablets stimulating to the mind the blue light from your screen interferes with the release of melatonin, a hormone that tells our body that it’s time to wind down. Invest in an alarm clock and keep the phone out of the bedroom altogether if you can.
Say no to caffeine and heavy foods
Caffeine is a stimulant so to really have the best nights sleep you can avoid beverages and foods that contain caffeine — coffee, tea, soft drinks etc at least 6 hours prior to bedtime.
Heavy meals and those that are fatty or spicy are all tough on the digestive system and can trigger indigestion. It’s best to avoid those foods close to bedtime, it takes your stomach 3 to 4 hours to empty, so when you lie down right after a big meal it can trigger indigestion or heartburn.
Try a herbal tea as an alternative such as valerian or chamomile or if you are not a fan of herbal teas you could try a herbal sleep aid in a tablet form like the Melissa Dream.
Knock the alcohol on the head
It can be tempting to indulge in a nightcap to wind down after a stressful day but your glass of wine could actually be affecting your sleep. Initially alcohol will make you feel drowsy however it will ultimately lead to lighter, more restless sleep, diminishing sleep depth and quality
Although a short nap of 20-25 minutes can lift your mood and leave you more refreshed, at least in the short term, it won’t make up for poor quality sleep at night. However, if you are experiencing trouble falling or staying asleep, it can be best to avoid naps altogether. A late-afternoon snooze will decrease your homeostatic sleep drive, making it harder to drift off at bedtime.
Get your steps in
Physical activity improves sleep quality and increases sleep duration. Exercise may also bolster sleep in other ways, because it reduces stress and tires you out. Even 20 minutes of gentle exercise a day will make a difference to your sleep that night.