A good night’s sleep is important for our health. It can help us to fight off illness, heal faster, retain memories and maintain a healthy weight.
It’s recommended that we get seven to nine hours of sleep per night. This should ideally be with few interruptions – it’s possible to be in bed for nine hours but still get a poor night’s sleep from constantly waking up and never getting into a deep sleep.
There are many things that can affect our ability to sleep well. Here are just a few lifestyle improvements that could help you to sleep better.
Upgrade your mattress
If you’re tossing and turning at night, an uncomfortable mattress could be to blame. Everyone has their own preferences when it comes to the perfect mattress, so it could be a case of going to a mattress store and trying out options.
Firm mattresses tend to be better for those that sleep on their back or those with back pain, while soft mattresses tend to suit side sleepers better. There are hybrid mattresses on the market that have both a soft memory foam layer and hard spring base for the best of both worlds.
Regulate the temperature
A lot of people struggle to get to sleep or constantly wake up because they’re too hot or cold. It may be time to upgrade your HVAC if this is the case – the top HVAC companies will be able to find a solution to fit your home. You could even consider smart HVAC that you can control from your bed so that you don’t have to get up in the night to adjust the temperature.
You could also consider making changes to your bedding. Having a thin blanket and thick duvet on the bed at all times could allow you to switch between the two if you get too hot or too cold. Certain materials can also be better for trapping heat or providing cool.
Be more active during the day
Being active during the day will help you to get to sleep at night. The body clock finds it easier to differentiate night and day (and therefore get to sleep more easily) if you’re active during daylight hours. Try to exercise earlier in the day for maximum effectiveness – exercising late at night is not recommended and could harm your ability to get to sleep by pumping the body full of adrenalin.
De-stress in the evening
Stress can also keep us up at night. When we’re stressed, we release a hormone called cortisol which makes us more alert to deal with fight or flight situations. Finding ways to destress at the end of the day could help to reduce these cortisol levels.Perfect activities for de-stressing include taking a bath, reading a book, listening to music or meditating.
Consume the right foods/drinks before bed
The types of foods and drinks you consume before bed can also affect your sleep quality. Some of the worst things you consume before bed include coffee (for obvious reasons), chocolate (it also contains caffeine), alcoholic drinks (a lot of alcohol will knock you out, but could stop you getting into a deep sleep) and energising foods that are high in fat or sugar such as pizza or ice cream. Limit these foods and drink before bed if you struggle to get to sleep.
Meanwhile, a few surprising foods and drinks may be able to help you get to sleep. Almonds, walnuts, turkey, chamomile tea and bananas are all known to help improve sleep quality because they contain sleep-inducing ingredients such as melatonin, magnesium, potassium and tryptophan.
Limit screen time at night
Staring at bright screens from TVs, phones and computers at night can trick our brains into thinking it’s still daytime. This reduces the production of melatonin – the body’s sleep hormone.
Try to take a break from bright screens an hour before you go to sleep. Activities like taking a bath, reading and listening to music could be better.
Declutter your bedroom
It’s important that your bedroom is a calming environment. Clutter can subconsciously make us more stressed – this could prevent you from getting to sleep as easily at night.
Take the time to remove or contain visible clutter in your room. Piles of clothes, messy dressers and cluttered bedside cabinets are some of the things you may want to tackle. Making your bed can also be important for creating a relaxing sleep environment.
Keep the sunlight out of your bedroom
Many of us also find it easier to sleep in total darkness. Outdoor street lighting could prevent you getting to sleep while the morning sun could wake you up early – finding an effective way of blocking out light could help you to get a better night’s sleep. This could include blackout curtains, blackout blinds or shutters.
Use sleep-inducing scents
There are certain scents that can also help us to fall asleep. These include lavender, bergamot, chamomile, vanilla, sandalwood, jasmine and frankincense. Finding ways to introduce these scents to your bedroom could help you to sleep better – this could be via scented candles, incense sticks, essential oils or even the detergent that you wash your bedsheets in. You may also be able to grow plants in your bedroom that release calming scents.
Establish a consistent sleep schedule
It’s easier to fall asleep if your body clock is able to follow a schedule. This includes going to sleep at the same time each night and waking up at the same time each morning. Of course, if you work odd shifts, you may not be able to create such a consistent schedule, however if you work a job with regular hours you should be able to adopt such a schedule.
Be wary that napping during the day may prevent you from getting to sleep at night. However, napping could provide you that extra amount of sleep if you can’t otherwise get it at night.