5 tips to a better quality sleep
Nodding off, catching Zs or hitting the hay - no matter what you call it, getting the right amount of quality sleep is important for our overall health and wellbeing.
How much sleep you need varies from person to person, but the recommended amount of sleep for most people is 7 to 9 hours a night.
Not getting enough sleep can weaken your immune system, increases your risk of weight gain and can severely affect your mental health and alertness.
Think of getting enough quality sleep as one of the three pillars of health, alongside nutrition and exercise. Thankfully there are some easy changes you can make to you bedtime routine to improve the quality and duration of your sleep.
What can you do to improve your sleep?
Get into a daily routine
With everything happening at the moment, it's likely your normal routine has been disrupted. But having a regular sleeping pattern is really important for good sleep.
It may be harder to do right now, but if you can wake up, wind down and go to bed around the same time each day, it will really help.
It can be hard at times but try to avoid napping during the day as this can interrupt your normal sleep pattern.
Remember, your sleep routine starts before you actually get into bed, so build in that extra bit of time every evening to wind down – and try to switch off from your tech.
Things like reading, gentle stretches or meditation are a good way to unwind, and keeping chargers for your devices out of the bedroom can help you avoid absent-minded scrolling.
Manage your worries
Anxiety about your daily life is normal, your mind could be stuck on negative aspects of your life such as stress around your job. Your anxiety may also be heightened with the coronavirus outbreak, these feelings can very quickly affect how easily you fall asleep and how well you sleep.
There are things you can do in your day to help manage your worries, like talking to someone you trust, taking regular deep breaths and switching off from the news.
If you often lie awake worrying, set aside time before bed to make a to-do list for the next day – this can be a good way to put your mind at rest.
Using techniques like reframing unhelpful thoughts might also help, it may be difficult at first, but try to keep a positive mindset about life’s struggles, they will eventually pass.
Prepare your body for sleep
Our physical health and how we look after our body can have a big effect on our sleep. It can be easy to fall into unhealthy patterns of behaviour that can make your sleep worse, especially at times like these.
Having caffeine, alcohol, nicotine or a big meal too close to bedtime can stop you from falling asleep and prevent deep sleep. Try to avoid them before bed and see if things improve.
Regular exercise is also great for sleep. Just remember to steer clear of anything too vigorous right before bedtime if you find it affects your sleep.
Create a restful environment
Simple things can have a big impact when it comes to falling asleep and staying asleep.
It's generally easier to doze off when it's cool, dark and quiet – but the right sleep environment is personal, so try different things and see what works for you.
Wearing earplugs, putting your phone on silent and face down (or out of the room entirely), keeping clocks out of view and making sure the room is well ventilated can all make a big difference.
Some people also find playing ambient sounds like rainfall, gentle music or white noise helpful.
Try a combination of these tips and see what works for you!
If you're lying awake unable to sleep, dont try to force it. If you're tired and enjoying the feeling of resting, then sleep may naturally take over.
But if not, get up and do something relaxing for a bit, like reading a book or listening to quiet music, and go back to bed when you feel sleepier.