Lack of sleep can leave you feeling unrefreshed, fatigued and just not on the ball. Prolonged poor sleep or insomnia can negatively impact your long-term wellbeing.
Ensuring you get enough quality sleep is essential for both your physical and mental health and is just as important as a healthy diet and regular exercise. In this guide, we reveal the secrets to a good night’s sleep.
1. Create the right sleeping environment
Ensuring your bedroom is set up for a good night’s sleep is the essential first step, and the key areas to address are temperature, noise, comfort, and light.
Your room should work to support your body’s natural circadian rhythms – or your body clock – as the day shifts from daylight to night-time. And this means your bedroom needs to be as dark as possible when you are ready to go to sleep. As well as the required darkness, you also need a comfortable bed, and minimal noise to distract you from the sleeping business at hand.
The room’s temperature makes a difference too as higher temperatures can reduce the quality of your sleep. Around 20°C (70°F) is considered the optimum room temperature for most people.
2. Switch off your tech
With our connected lives, we tend to keep our smart tech close by, even at bedtime. But your devices may well be contributing to your poor sleep as they emit a blue light, which suppresses the sleep hormone, melatonin. To let your body ease naturally into night-time mode, switch off or put away your smart tech at least an hour before bedtime and try to avoid watching TV in bed.
3. Stick to a bedtime routine
Your body thrives on routine, especially when it comes to getting a good night’s sleep. Having a set pattern in the run up to bedtime can really help your mind and body get into the sleep zone. A simple bedtime ritual such as having a bath or shower then a warm milky drink as you listen to calming music or read a chapter of a book will signal that you are winding down to sleep. And wherever possible, try to go to bed around the same time each night so you can really support your natural sleep cycle.
4. Try supplements to help you sleep
If you find you are regularly struggling to get to sleep or suffer from sleep-related fatigue, there are supplements you can try to help reduce the effects, including valerian root, which can also ease any mild anxiety which may be keeping you awake.
As a side note, you could also consider taking iron supplements if you struggle with tiredness. Iron has been found to reduce tiredness and fatigue (EFSA, 2010), helping you to feel more prepared for the day ahead.
5. Avoid alcohol and caffeine
If you need a good night’s sleep, avoid coffee or a ‘night-cap’ in the hours before you go to bed. A known stimulant, caffeine can rev up your nervous system and prevent you from winding down, ready for sleep. And alcohol is also a sleep disruptor, decreasing levels of the sleep hormone, melatonin, contributing to snoring and sleep apnoea, and reducing sleep quality.
6. Live an active lifestyle
And finally, to sleep and rest well at night, it is important to be sufficiently active during the day. Moderate, regular exercise during daylight hours can actually boost your sleep hormone levels and set you up for a good night’s sleep, as well as help you to fall asleep faster, and stay asleep longer. Just don’t exercise too late in the day or just before bedtime, as exercise also produces stimulating hormones such as adrenaline. And these exercise hormones can increase your alertness just when you are ready to wind down and get ready for some much-needed restorative shut eye.