19th March 2019Category: General
From time to time we can all struggle to get a good night’s sleep, however when you add in the responsibilities and stress that come with a caring role the struggle can become all too frequent.
Like proper nutrition and exercise, sleep fulfils a vital role in keeping us healthy and happy. We need a good night’s sleep to ensure we feel fit, think sharply and make the most of everyday living.
This month is National Bed Month, an annual campaign led by The Sleep Council who try to raise awareness of how a good night’s sleep benefits our health and wellbeing as well as helping people adopt healthier sleep habits.
Below are some tips, tricks and handy hints to help you find your way to the land of nod.
Going to bed and getting up at roughly the same time, all the time, will programme your body to sleep better, even on the weekends. This helps to regulate your body clock and could help you fall asleep and stay asleep for the night.
Take the time this month to check if your bedroom is sleep-friendly. Make sure it’s cool, dark and quiet.
Too hot or too cold a room can disrupt your sleep, a cool 16-18°C (60-65°F) is thought to be an ideal temperature in a bedroom. It’s advisable to have a range of bedding to use in different seasons. If you’re feeling the cold you can use a hot water bottle or electric blanket to make it feel toastier. Upstairs windows could be opened to maximise cool air circulation in the hot months, alternatively a fan blowing gently could lower the room temperature.
When it’s dark, we release melatonin, which relaxes the body and helps us to drift off. Try using an eye-mask or black out curtains.
Loud or sudden noise can disturb your sleep, foam ear plugs are an effective way to combat this. Alternatively, soft, steady sounds can be soothing. Some people use ‘white noise’ tapes to help them fall asleep and sleep more soundly.
We spend a third of our lives in bed so it’s important that your sleep on a comfortable and supportive mattress and pillows. The one you have been using for years may have exceeded its life expectancy – about 9 or 10 years for most good quality mattresses.
TVs, computers, phones and tablets prevent us from falling asleep and can be disruptive throughout the night. The blue light created by these LED displays supress melatonin which is essential in helping us relax and drift off.
Switch off the gadgets and experiment with new ways to relax. A relaxing, routine activity before bed helps the body and mind prepare for sleep.
Some suggestions include warm baths with calming scents, quiet soothing music, reading, gentle stretching and yoga. Find what works best for you.
Over time, once your bedtime ritual is created, you will fall asleep quicker and achieve a better deeper sleep.
Overhauling your diet, caffeine and alcohol consumption and exercise regime can have a huge impact on sleep.
Try not to eat too much near bedtime and choose foods which promote sleep such as chicken and turkey, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, peanuts, beans and milk.
Avoid stimulants such as alcohol and caffeine which reduce sleep quality, don’t forget a lot of soft drinks have caffeine too
Exercise can tire your body and help release tension, promoting a better night’s sleep. Yoga is renowned for its relaxation and sleep benefits, while moderate-aerobic exercise like walking has been found to help people fall asleep more quickly.
Keep a notepad by your bed and if your mind is running on overdrive, write down your worries – it really does help to unburden stressful or niggling thoughts
Long-term lack of sleep is a serious matter, if this is a concern to you please speak to your GP.
For more information and ideas to help you make the most of every night visit The Sleep Council website.