Sleep is vital for a positive mood and allows our brain and body to function. Not getting enough sleep or having poor quality, interrupted sleep can have negative effects on our memory, emotions and capacity to learn. We often rely on sugary snacks or caffeine kicks to give us the boost of energy we need to get through a busy day but we've come up with some top tips to help you sleep better.
Here are our top 10 ways to help you sleep better and improve your health...
1. Have regular sleeping hours
Going to bed and waking up at roughly the same time each day can help programme your body's internal clock, helping you to sleep better. This is also useful for children in the household and is likely to help you begin to wake up naturally, without hitting the snooze button five times! If you're a fan of a lie-in at the weekend, try to keep this no longer than an hour, to keep your body rhythm in check.
2. Have a comfortable and restful bedroom
A comfy mattress can help reduce morning aches and pains and crisp, clean bed linen will entice you to go to bed (rather than fall asleep on the sofa). Keeping your bedroom clean and tidy along with limiting noise from TVs and clocks will help you drift off to sleep. Sophie is a big fan of a sleep mask if you struggle to fall asleep in a light bedroom.
3. Keep your bedroom an ideal temperature
Being too warm can make it difficult to fall asleep and can also increase the likelihood of nightmares and sleepwalking. Being too cold can also cause you to wake up in the night and certainly won't help you spring out of bed in the morning, when it's, well... just so cosy! Choosing a duvet that can be altered to be a greater tog of warmth in the winter and thinner in the summer is a cost-effective method of controlling your temperature, along with having an extra blanket or warmer pyjamas in winter.
4. Exercise during the day
Gentle exercise throughout the day can help to relieve stress and tensions within the body, by decreasing the levels of stress hormones in the body. It is important though to do any intense exercises such as running or long gym workouts earlier in the day, whilst sticking to more gentle exercises like yoga and walking in the afternoon, to allow you to drift off to sleep quicker.
5. Avoid snoozing unless it's bedtime
It can be tempting after a long day to flick the telly on, stretch out on the sofa and 'rest your eyes' or 'have a power nap.' In the long run, cat naps and quick rests negatively impact how easy it is for you to fall asleep at bedtime, along with a decrease in the quality of sleep you'll receive.
6. Avoid caffeine before bedtime
Caffeine is a stimulant, so can prevent you from falling asleep. It's best to limit your intake and avoid drinking tea or coffee in the evening. There are plenty of caffeine-free alternatives that can even help you fall asleep - such as a herbal chamomile tea or a hot milky drink.
7. Relax and wind down
A relaxing bath with a scented candle followed by putting on your favourite PJs can help set you up for a restful night's sleep. The warm water combined with a good book or quiet music will help to relax your body and mind.
8. Scent your bedroom
Aromatherapy is commonly used to help people who have trouble sleeping. Popular scents include lavender and rose - it's often suggested their soothing scents can help you relax and prepare you for sleep.
9. Keep electronics out of your bedroom
We are spending increasing amounts of time during our day staring at TVs, computer screens and phones, along with eBooks, tablets and fitness trackers. However, the type of light they emit can effect your body's release of melatonin - the sleep hormone. We're all guilty of a late night scroll through social media, checking your emails one last time or browsing gift ideas for the uncle who's a nightmare to buy for... but as the minutes pass by, the morning creeps closer and you'll feel much more refreshed if you spend this time sleeping instead.
10. Keep pets in their own bed
45% of UK households own a pet, with around half of these allowing their pet to sleep in bed with them. As cute and cuddly as they are, cats and dogs can wake you up in the night! It may be best for your pet to have their own bed, to help everyone to sleep better.