Poor sleep can impact every aspect of your life, from your mood and energy levels to your physical health, as well as potentially contributing to illness and disease. But with our busy and often stressful lives, a good night’s sleep can seem elusive. If this sounds like you then we’re here to help, with four key ways to prepare for the very best night’s sleep.
Stick to a sleep schedule
The starting point to a good night’s sleep is a regular sleep schedule as this can help regulate your internal body clock as well as your brain, so they know when it is time to switch into sleep mode.
The recommendation for an adult is seven to eight hours of sleep a night, but it is also important to try and get to bed and then wake up in the morning at the same time each day.
This consistency works to reinforce your sleep-wake cycle, which will become more natural and help you to wake up each morning well-rested and refreshed for the day ahead.
Take time to wind down
There’s no point sticking to a sleep schedule if all you do is lie in bed with an overactive mind that refuses to nod off. So, to give your sleep routine every chance of working, you need to prepare a few hours ahead and this means taking the time to wind down.
Getting your mind and body into sleep mode should be a pleasurable experience too; think relaxing activities, a hot bath or shower, gentle stretches and even a delicious hot, milky drink. What you are trying to do is ease yourself into sleep mode so when your head hits the pillow your mind and body are ready and willing for some rest.
And preparing for bed also means cutting out some bad habits which sabotage your ability to unwind; these include avoiding vigorous exercise, caffeine and heavy meals at least a few hours before bedtime and not having a ‘nightcap’ as alcohol can significantly disrupt your sleep.
Create a sleep-friendly environment
Your bedroom is also crucial as it needs to be a calm, relaxing environment that you associate with a good night’s sleep. Your bedroom should also encourage your body to prepare to sleep and so comfort, light and temperature as well as noise are crucial.
For the ideal sleeping environment, it needs to be dark, as quiet as possible and at the right temperature as your body prefers a cooler room to relax in. Somewhere between 18 and 24 degrees is ideal.
You also need to eliminate sleep-disrupting blue light, so switch off or remove TVs, tech and your smartphone, which can all suppress melatonin, which is nature’s sleep hormone.
Establish a good day time routine
And finally, what you do during daylight can positively impact on your ability to fall asleep once night falls.
Including some physical activity into your day can help to promote better sleep. And if you can, spend some time each day outdoors as exposure to natural daylight can support your body’s internal body clock (or circadian rhythm) so it knows when it’s time for bed.
Keep hydrated, eat a well-balanced nutrient rich diet and avoiding heavy meals too late into the night will all appropriately nourish your body and sustain your energy through the day. But if you do feel sluggish or unrefreshed, then a multivitamin or iron supplements can help, as iron can help reduce tiredness and fatigue.
And this means that, when it is time for bed, your body and mind are naturally ready for a good night’s rest.