Many people suffer with poor sleep and this can affect us in a number of ways including impacting hugely on our day to day health. Experts suggest that 7-8 hours sleep a night is essential, with some individuals needing more and others coping well with less. As with everything else, how much sleep we need depends on the individual.
Whether or not you get a good night’s sleep can be influenced by a person’s nutrition, health and weight. People who are not a healthy weight are more at risk of having trouble sleeping.
If you have been having trouble sleeping for a while it is important to go and see you doctor to check if there are any underlying or medical reasons why you cannot sleep. Otherwise, read below for our 10 Top Tips to a good night’s sleep:
1.) Regular bedtime routine – as humans, we are creatures of habit and we need a relatively regular routine and structure in our day to allow us to function. The same is very much true of going to sleep at night. If you are having trouble sleeping it is a really good idea to spend a few days or weeks establishing a set night time routine. This may involve heading upstairs at a similar time each night, brushing your teeth and then getting ready for bed, reading a book and then turning off the lights – in the same order. It is important that you do this for a few days in a row as it will take a while to get your body into a regular night time routine. Do not allow anything to disturb your routine or you may have to start it all again!
2.) Set the bed time environment – try and stay away from bright lights close to bed time. Our bodies are programmed to know it is time to sleep when the sun goes down and so having dimmed lighting can help to to get your eyes ready to close-off for the night. Ensure the room is quiet and not too hot or cold as this can have a big impact on you settling down. Additionally, try and make sure your room is clutter-free and allows for a relaxed body and mind.
3.) Avoid napping in the day – this can wreck our body clock and may be a main reason why you are not sleeping at night. As with the first point, our bodies need a routine and if we change the time that we drift off to sleep this will put our body clocks out of line!
4.) Ensure you are exercising enough – exercise can help to tire the body and therefore get it ready for a good night’s rest. However, it is important not to exercise too close to bedtime (leave around a 2 hour gap) as the elated energy levels and hormones may make it harder to drift off for a night’s sleep.
5.) Have a hot bath of shower – a bath is a great way to relax, so making a nightly bath part of your bedtime routine could help you sleep better each night. If it helps to relax you even more, try reading a book or magazine or set up some candles and dim the lights for a truly sleep-inducing environment.
6.) Avoid food a few hours before – if you eat too close to bedtime your body will be busy digesting and absorbing the food you have just eaten, so try and avoid anything for around two hours before you start your bedroom routine. On the other hand, going to bed on an empty stomach can stop us getting a good night’s sleep so ensure you have a nice, healthy meal early evening.
7.) Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed – the effect of both of these is stimulation, which is exactly what you want to steer clear of if you are having trouble sleeping. Avoid having a glass of wine or two and certainly do not opt for caffeinated tea or drinks before bed.
8.) “Let them eat cheese” – a few hours before bed it may be a good idea to have some dairy food, as these foods contain tryptophan, a chemical known to help induce relaxation and sleep. Nuts, seeds and chocolate also contain tryptophan. Combine these foods with some wholemeal carbohydrates which will help to keep your blood sugar levels stable.
9.) Get some melatonin – this natural chemical is responsible for your sleeping cycle and can often decline with age. Seasonal changes affect the amount of melatonin you have and so it is important to get some in your diet. Wholegrain foods such as oats, rice and corn contain levels of this as do cherries, grapes and bananas so opt for these throughout the day to get some help in regulating your sleep cycle.
10.) Reduce stress – easier said than done, we know! However at night it is a good idea to keep a pen and paper by your bed-side table. When thoughts or stresses pop into your head write them down and plan to deal with them the next day. This can put your brain on hold, knowing that the issues will be dealt with in the morning.
So there we go – our Top Ten tips to getting a good night’s sleep. Please do let us know if you have any additional ideas and also if any of the above really worked for you, we would love to hear about it.
Thank you and sleep tight