How to get a good night’s sleep
Wednesday 21 October 2009
This coming Sunday marks National Sleep In Day – the clocks are going back, so we get an extra hour’s shut-eye!
For some of us, though, this might not be so easy. Insomnia affects more than a fifth of the population at some point in their life.
Factors such as stress, overeating and poor lifestyle habits can mean that getting essential sleep is difficult.
And when we’re sleep deprived, our mood, concentration and health can become affected, which then create even more sleep-related worries.
Here are our tips to making sure that you get your recommended sleep!
Switch off your life Bright lights from computer screens and TVs can cause your brain to ‘stay awake’ when it should be producing sleep-inducing melatonin. By switching them off an hour or two before bed, you won’t disrupt the body’s natural sleeping process
Steer clear of caffeine While a nice cuppa can seem like the ultimate in helping you switch off, tea and coffee both contain caffeine, which can cause you to wake up in the night. What’s more, they’re diuretics, so it could send you running for the loo in the night! Switch to decaf or try herbal tea (see below).
Have a hot bath Though your body’s temperature actually drops when you’re asleep, it’s very hard to fall asleep if you’re cold! A warm bath will help you feel sleepy as it relaxes your muscles and prepares your body for the temperature drop. Adding relaxing essential oils like lavender or camomile can also help
De-stress If you’re anxious or depressed about work, try talking problems through with your partner, venting to a mate or keeping a journal – you’ll feel better if you get negative thoughts off your chest, and it might make you sleep a little easier!
Eat light Remember the saying ‘Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dine like a pauper’? Eating a heavy meal before bed will make you feel uncomfortable at bedtime, so watch those portions! If you’re starving, have some light carbohydrate – crackers, toast or fruit are ideal.
Exercise During the day, that is! Exercise within four hours of your bedtime can lead to sleepless nights, as it raises your metabolism and energy levels. But exercising in the morning, afternoon or early evening will make sure you'll be good and tired come night time!
Try herbal remedies Herbal teas are a great way to unwind, as the herbs have relaxing properties. Try camomile, valerian or redbush tea – try Tranquilitea by Tea (a loose tea, so you can add as much as you want) for a blend that tastes as good as it is relaxing!
It’s generally thought that people should get 8 hours sleep a night, but this will vary from individual to individual - try giving yourself an 8-hour window every night, and make a note of when you fall asleep or wake up to determine how much you need.