We spend half our lives asleep, but many of us still struggle to do it well. We’ve compiled a list of top tips to help you get to sleep faster, stay asleep better and wake up more refreshed:
Going to bed at the same time each night is as important as getting enough hours of sleep in, according to new research from Harvard University. It can even compensate for not getting the optimum 7 to 9 hours each night.
Erratic bedtimes can put your circadian rhythm out of sync, meaning you can feel asleep for half the morning, similar to having jet lag.
Think of your bedroom as a cave. A dark, quiet, comfortable room with a cool temperature of around 65-67 degrees is ideal. Hopefully no bears though (teddy bear excepted!)
A hot water bottle at your feet or wearing socks can also be helpful as this helps dilate your blood vessels faster, warming your internal temperature.
Caffeine has a half-life of 8–10 hours, so stopping at 2pm means your system is free of stimulants by around 10pm, making it easier to fall asleep. One study found that consuming caffeine just 6 hours before bedtime can reduce your total sleep by time 1 hour.
Don’t forget it’s not just coffee that contains caffeine. Energy drinks, tea, cola and chocolate also contain it, though not as much.
Using a sleep shield controls the amount of light you’re exposed to before bed. Scientists say that the blue light from gadgets can make it more difficult to get to sleep, increase interrupted sleep and make it longer to fully wake up the next day.
There’s plenty of choice of apps which transform the blue light into red and reduce glare. Even if you don’t have sleep issues, you will notice a reduction in eye strain.
Better still, stop using screens an hour before bedtime – if you can manage it!
You knew it was coming! Yes, exercise is without doubt one of the best things you can do to improve your sleep. Regular exercisers are significantly more likely to have good quality sleep and feel more alert during the day. So if you’re struggling with shuteye, make sure you’re getting your recommended 150 minutes of activity a week, even if you have to squeeze it into 10 minutes.
Also, try to avoid vigorous exercise an hour before bed. A relaxing swim or yoga might be better than a spin class at 8pm. Use a flexible gym pass to try different classes at different times to see how they affect your sleep.
I agree with Debra. My whirring mind is often what keeps me awake. But then I find the best antidote to this is reading a book, or listening to an audiobook, so my mind gets something else to focus on and it also makes me very tired.
thank goodness that heat has gone. I'd add another to this excellent list - switch off mentally. Easier said than done, but that 'to-do' list can really wreck sleep. Write it down and forget it.
I assume that the 65 degrees in the article is in fahrenheit, or that bedroom would be even hotter than Michael's! There isn't much to be done on a hot night unless you own a fan (worth keeping one?) or aircon. We aren't really acclimatised to this in the UK.
Great tips - but anything to help me sleep better in this sweltering heat?! It's still 20 degrees at night!