A third of adults in the UK are thought to have insomnia, failing to get a good night’s sleep as a result. Most adults need 7-9 hours of sleep each night. If you regularly fail to get enough sleep, the outcomes for your physical and mental health can be poor.
Luckily, we have outlined five extremely important things that you can do to increase the length and quality of your sleep! So, if you are looking for a better night’s sleep, keep reading below.
1. Develop a regular sleep schedule
One of the best things you can do to improve your sleep is to create a sleep schedule.
Humans have a natural circadian rhythm, which means we are programmed to cycle between being asleep and being awake at regular intervals. So, if you do not stick to a regular cycle then you will find yourself wanting to sleep and wake up at irregular times!
The first thing to do when making a sleep schedule is to decide what time you will set your alarm for in the morning. As many people have jobs, their start time will dictate what time they wake up. When setting your alarm, be sure to leave enough time for breakfast!
Even though you might not work at the weekends, it is best for your circadian rhythm if you still get up at the same time. Consistent wake times ensure your body wakes up naturally at the same time everyday, rather than waking up at a time it is not ready to.
You also need to fix a time for going to bed, and stick to this fairly rigidly too. So, even if you are desperate to watch the next episode of that Netflix series, try and hold off until the morning.
People that fail to regulate their waking up and going to sleep times often find themselves more irritable, less focused, and less happy. Some studies also suggest that poor sleep inhibits academic performance.
2. Reduce your caffeine intake
Many people are often surprised at how much caffeine can affect their sleep. Even if you have a mid-afternoon cup of coffee, it could be inhibiting you from falling asleep. Some people are more susceptible to the impacts of caffeine than others, but if you do find yourself struggling to fall asleep it is worth scaling back the amount of caffeine you consume. You should also try to consume decaffeinated products later in the day.
3. Avoid technology before bedtime
Most LED-based technology, like phones and laptops, emit blue light from their screens. Blue light is also emitted from the sun, and thus regulates our natural circadian rhythm!
However, when you use technology at night, long after the sun has gone down, it can disrupt your sleep/wake cycle. Thus, we recommend avoiding technology in the lead up to your bedtime.
Instead, why not try another enjoyable activity to relax your mind before going to sleep. This could be reading a nice book, having a bath, or even sewing and knitting.
If you really must use your phone or tablet before bed, take measures to stop blue light ruining your sleep. You could, for example, put your device into night mode, use blue-light filters or lenses, and limit your screen time.
4. Make your bedroom relaxing
A calming environment is crucial not just for falling asleep, but for staying asleep and ensuring you wake up feeling refreshed and energized. Here are some things we recommend doing to make your room more relaxing:
- Keep your room tidy
- Ensure your room is not too hot, or too cold
- Turn the lights down, or even make use of mood lighting to help you relax
- Reduce external noise e.g. turn off loud music, close your door and windows, etc.
- Invest in a comfy mattress (you can find ideas for pillows and mattresses at bedroomzz)
5. Be active and healthy during the day
Multiple studies have found that increasing your weekly physical activity, even just by walking, correlates with a better quality sleep. It also helps prevent leg cramps and discomfort, and can help you focus day-to-day.
However, we do not recommend intense exercise, such as cardio or HIIT workouts, right before bedtime. If you want to exercise before bed, why not try something lighter, such as yoga or pilates?
Your diet is also extremely important when it comes to getting a good night’s sleep. We have already mentioned limiting caffeine; you should also avoid the overconsumption of sugary or fatty foods.
If you think your diet could be significantly affecting your sleep, you should keep a food and sleep diary and see if you can spot any patterns. If problems persist, you could ask a dietician for their opinion.