March 15th marks World Sleep Day but for so many of us, a good night’s sleep regularly evades us and is far from the restful snooze we so desperately need. Whether you’re kept awake due to general tossing and turning, or anxiety and workplace stress, not being able to get a good night’s kip is seriously impactful on our everyday lives.
Feeling ‘tired’ is not the only result of a disturbed night, sleep is vital to both our physical and mental development and survival. Imagine all the physical and psychological pressure we endure during the day, sleep aids out repair, processing and development. While the recommendation for sleep duration for adults is between 7 and 8 hours a night, it’s not that simple; getting the right amount of hours but a poor quality of rest still means you’ll feel pretty dreadful come the morning. Investing in sleep quality is key but to do that you need to understand what is affecting your sleep in order to counter it and catch some well-deserved and needed z’s.
Key contributors to poor quality sleep
- Stress, anxiety and having an active mind
- Light exposure, particularly blue light like that from a smart phone or computer screen
- Stimulants like coffee, chocolate and nicotine
- Medical issues – there are loads of medical issues that affect sleep, from the more common sleep apnoea, which stops an individual from breathing in the middle of the night, to simply having general aches and pains, like a bad back
A quick search on Google will give you over a billion articles, all advising you how to improve your sleep, from medication to holistic approaches, but follow these 8 tips, and you’ll instantly feel more rested and ready to take on the day.
Top 8 tips for the best night’s sleep
- Make your bedroom purposeful: design and layout is key to ensuring you are resting in the right light and without distractions. The bedroom is for two things and social media and laptops aren’t either of them!
- Limit your light exposure as you draw closer to bed time – look into blue light filters to help during your working day, especially if you spend a lot of time looking at screens
- The age-old adage is true, coffee after two isn’t good for you – reduce your caffeine intake in the afternoons and ideally have nothing after 2pm
- Build a bedtime regime that facilitates sleep – relax your mind and build a pattern that your body will recognise as you shutting down for the day
- Use mindfulness techniques that will clear your mind and allow you to de-stress before bed, such as controlled breathing, try 7-7-7-7. Inhale for 7, hold for 7, exhale for 7, hold for 7 and repeat.
- If you wake during the night, don’t check the time – calculating how long you have left before you need to get up is not conducive to good sleep
- Invest in a light alarm clock, like Casper’s new Glow Lamp, or calming alarm sounds that build up rather than shrill alerts, which helps you wake up in a good mood and avoids being startled awake
- Andy’s tip: try sleeping with a pillow between your knees, especially if you have a bad back – by raising your knee height in line with your hip automatically straightens your spine and provides a good level of comfort to ease those aches and pains!