TEMPUR® sleep expert and chartered psychologist, Suzy Reading says: “So many people struggle with their sleep habits and put it down to simply being ‘bad’ sleepers; something they just have to put up with.
“In reality, sleep should be viewed as a structured process, starting with a wind down routine, followed by the act of sleeping, and completed with a morning routine. This process is something that takes regular practise; good quality sleep isn’t as always achieved by simply lying down and closing your eyes.
“Whilst this can seem overwhelming, think about how parents teach children to sleep – using a consistent routine complete with dedicated wind-down time and familiar waking activities. Trust that as soon as you feel the benefits, it will become a non-negotiable part of your daily life.”
Read on for Suzy’s guide to ensuring your best sleep ever…
Eat and drink smart
Keep yourself well hydrated throughout the day so, come evening, you don’t need to take on too much fluid before bed. This will stop your sleep being disturbed by needing the toilet during the night.
Try to keep your evening meal light and free from caffeine, alcohol and spicy foods, so that you’re not going to bed with an overly full stomach or with too much of a buzz. That said, a light snack before bed can deliver a boost of sleep-inducing nutrients and help ensure a good night’s sleep.
A warm milky drink is a traditional sleep remedy – dairy is a natural source of tryptophan, which helps to boost serotonin levels in the brain. Adding a squeeze of honey, which contains glucose will help lower levels of orexin, a neurotransmitter that raises levels of alertness.
If you’re feeling peckish, a banana with some nut butter is a great option. Bananas are high in potassium, which is essential to achieving a good night’s sleep and are also solid sources of tryptophan and sleep-inducing magnesium. Nuts also contain magnesium and tryptophan, plus they make a truly delicious combo!
Turn your bedroom into a cave
Your bedroom should be a sanctuary for sleep and this means that come bedtime it should mimic a cave environment – cool and dark. Invest in an eye mask to block out light and ensure your bedroom is slightly cooler than the rest of your home – around 18°C is ideal but if this feels too warm or a tad too cool, play around until you work out your optimum sleep temperature.
If you find your sleep disturbed by feeling cold at night, try wearing a pair of socks which can assist the body’s internal temperature regulation and may also help you fall asleep faster.
Make sure you are sleeping in cotton sheets and pyjamas that allow the body to breath for a comfortable slumber.
Ensure you wind down
Falling asleep isn’t as simple as getting into bed and shutting your eyes. Our mind and body need to be in a state of complete relaxation. Ideally, switch off your phone and any tech such as laptops or tablets about 30 minutes before you want to sleep and place them out of reach or in another room. Enjoy a warm lavender bath, gently apply some magnesium body lotion or a milky drink. Perhaps try writing down any worries or reflecting on things that went well in your day. Read something calming to distract the mind, have a stretch, or practise a soothing meditation or breathing routine.
Establishing a bedtime routine that can help your body and mind recognise that you’re approaching the state of sleep will ensure you give yourself the best chance of enjoying a peaceful night’s rest.
Enjoy a morning ritual
The body naturally produces melatonin – aka the sleep hormone – with production increasing with the onset of darkness. This helps to orient our circadian rhythm, however, it can mean that you struggle to get out of bed first thing in the dark depths of winter.
The simplest thing to do is to place your alarm clock on the other side of your room so that, come morning, you have to get out of bed to switch it off. You don’t have to open your curtains straight away, but do switch your bedroom light on to ensure there’s no temptation to crawl back under the covers. Opening the window and allowing some fresh air also does wonders to refresh you first thing.
If you need a little more encouragement, you should consider investing in a light therapy alarm clock which mimics the sunrise. This will help signal to your body that it’s nearly time to wake up and ease you gently into the day.
You can also try incorporating mountain breaths into your morning routine, which will help you start your day with purpose and zest. The gentle movement will help boost your mood and lift your energy levels, whilst the expansive breathing dials down stress and anxiety.
- Stand up tall with your arms relaxed by your side.
- As you breathe in, raise your arms out to the sides and up overhead, palms touching.
- As you breathe out, lower your arms back down and keep your gaze forward.
- Repeat six times.
Move your body
Not only is exercise great for your mental and physical health, it also helps ensure a good night’s sleep. Think about it – the more tired you feel, the easier you’ll find falling asleep.
First thing in the morning is ideal as you’ll feel like you’ve already achieved something great before you even sit down at your desk. A dose of natural light first thing will also help to boost your circadian rhythm, helping you to fall asleep with greater ease later in the day.
Try a sunrise stroll or jog through the park, an energising yoga flow, or maybe you prefer a spin or Zumba class with high-energy music blasting? If the thought of vigorous exercise doesn’t resonate, opt for some gentle floor based yoga or Pilates or move with the breath tai chi style. A good stretch counts! Whatever it is that makes you feel good, just ensure you get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity every week. Remember it needn’t be in big chunks, exercise has a cumulative effect so a little here and there all adds up.
It’s not only that movement is good for us, it’s also that being sedentary for long periods of time makes us feel sluggish and tense, so look for opportunities to swap sitting for standing. Seek to break up sedentary activity by standing during Team or zoom calls and take your meeting calls on the hoof and walk and talk. This is good for your stress levels and quality of sleep.
Before long you’ll enjoy the glorious benefits to your sleep, mood, physical and mental health.
For more information on Tempur, visit www.tempur.co.uk