Sleep? What’s that? Nowadays, for most, getting enough sleep is mission impossible. With never-ending commitments both professionally and socially, who really gets their recommended eight-hours?
With sleep at the foundation of our wellbeing (our mental and physical health, brain functioning, stress levels etc.), we’ve gathered 11 tried-and-true tips to get more sleep and reap those benefits.
When we were younger, a routine was an enemy we were constantly fighting. And it makes sense – growing up, most of us were told ‘go to bed now’or ‘you’ve got 10 minutes left’, which, naturally, we rebelled against as often as possible. Now, as grown-ups, we’ve done a U-turn and securing a routine is like gold dust.
If you’re struggling to do this, you’re not alone, but there are ways to make a routine more apparent in your lifestyle. Try eating at the same time every day. If you have commitments, allow yourself enough time to do what you need to do to get home at a reasonable hour. If you know you’re having a late one, try getting to bed a little earlier the evening before.
A routine will give your body the chance to fix to a rhythm, and, after some time, you’ll find your body naturally expects to fall asleep and awake at around the same time each day, making the whole thing a lot easier.
We know it’s tempting to take your screens to bed with you for a cosy nighttime Netflix binge (or a sleepy scroll) but you gotta resist. Why? Screens stimulate the brain – it’s as simple as that. In order to give your brain enough time to ‘shut down’, try to separate yourself from all your screens from roughly an hour before bedtime. If you’re lacking self-control and can’t fight the urge to check your phone, leave it at the other side of the room.
And on the note of screen separation, use iPhone’s Bedtime feature (that we swear by). It’s found in the timer/alarm clock app on your iPhone and it allows you to set your bed and wake times for each night/morning. It lets you know how much sleep you’re going to get whilst measuring your hours each night.
With this feature, your phone sends you a notification within the hour of your bedtime to help you get your routine in order. On top of this, while you’re asleep your phone automatically turns on ‘do not disturb’ mode (so no texts or calls will wake you up). This setting turns off as soon as the alarm does, and your phone will even welcome you with a morning message and a weather update.
We know you might not think an eye mask might to be your thing but if you’re struggling with getting your shut-eye, an eye mask can be… eye-opening. But seriously, don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it.
Darkness is essential to getting a good night sleep (more of that in a bit), so if your room is lacking in darkness, this is a quick, easy solution. As well as darkness, it’ll ‘force’ your eyes to close and, therefore, help your brain recognise you’re sleeping… or trying to, anyway.
It may sound crazy but having a scented room will help your mind and body to relax. We’re talking scents like lavender, not 2-day old Dominos, so clear your room of all the bad and fill it with more of the good. A room diffuser is a great investment, so find a scent that suits you and stick with it. Eventually, you’ll associate that scent with a relaxed environment.
This is anything from a clean room to welcoming fresh air whilst you sleep. It’s true what they say – a tidy room really does make for a tidy mind. Make sure everything is off your bed (and tidied away, if possible) and declutter your room to give yourself the headspace you need before sleeping.
Try sleeping with a window open – even if it’s just a little bit, fresh air will prevent you from getting hot and muggy during the night. This being said, keep your room as dark as you can for a better night sleep. Why? Your brain releases a naturally occurring hormone called melatonin which makes you sleepy (also found in meats which explains tiredness after a heavy Sunday roast). Melatonin is released more in the dark, so dim the lights well before bedtime to get those hormones flowing.
Laying in bed and overthinking is one of the worse things you can do, yet we’re all guilty of it. Experts have suggested keeping a notebook next to your bed so that, should any overwhelming thoughts occur or should you not be able to get something out of your head, you can grab your notebook and jot it down as to temporarily rid them.
Another idea is to read a book – just make sure it’s anactual book and not a backlit device such as a Kindle.
Speaking of clearing your mind, if this doesn’t come naturally to you, try one of the many calming apps you can get on your phone. They play relaxing noises (such as streams etc.) or they can read out stories like an audiobook to help you drift off.
…BUT avoid eating within an hour of bedtime. Going to bed hungry is known to have disruptive effects on sleep, but eating too close to bedtime isn’t great either, as the food will struggle to digest when laying horizontal (and metabolism slows during sleep).
It’s also worth noting that even tea has caffeine in it. If you need a hot-drink fix before bed, herbal or decaf could change your life!
Why is it that the older we get, the stronger we yearn for naps? As tempting as it may be, napping during the day can really mess up your sleep. Ok, fine, you cannap, but anything more than 20-30 minutes will leave you feeling sluggish and groggy – know the feeling? It’s all to do with our sleep cycle and the levels of deep sleep we dip in and out of during the night.
It might sound obvious, but comfort is something that’s often overlooked. We’re not talking about sleeping on your side, we mean real comfort. It’s important to consider all factors, from the material of your bedding to the pyjamas you’re wearing.
We chatted with Casper, the award-winning UK mattress brand, to find out what makes their pillows so great. Here’s what we learned:
They also do mattresses and bedsheets – check them out here.