We are beginning to understand just how crucial sleep is for our mental and physical health. Put simply the more you sleep, the longer you are likely to live.
Sleep is an active process where we process memories and emotions. Prioritising and improving the quality of your sleep might be the single most important thing you can do to improve your wellbeing. Fundamentally the brain needs routine to know when to enter sleep so improving the quality of your sleep will take time, try and be patient.
Here are our 10 top tips. Remember making changes can be difficult – why not start by trying one or two and see if they work?
- Start your sleep routine during the morning by getting at least 30 minutes of morning sunshine.
- Avoid caffeine after 10am – ¼ of a dose of caffeine is still alerting our bodies 12 hours later, so having a coffee at 11am is like going to bed at 11pm with a ¼ shot of espresso and hoping to sleep.
- Avoid ‘blue light’ from screens such as tablets and phones for at least 60 minutes before going to bed – this wavelength of light confuses the brain that it is still daytime.
- Try and go to bed and wake up at the same time every day – avoid ‘social jet lag’ caused by sleeping later at the weekends.
- Keep the bedroom cool & dark – about 18 degrees is ideal.
- Avoid sedatives – these include ‘sleeping pills’. These cause sedation and not sleep – plus the brain will quickly get used to needing this signal. Alcohol is also a sedative and fragments sleep – you are actually far more likely to have broken sleep after a ‘nightcap’.
- Have a wind down routine – begin to dim the lights in the house in the evening and get into those PJs an hour before going to bed.
- Go to bed only when you are tired – lying for too long without falling asleep can trick the brain into associating the bedroom with alertness. You wouldn’t wait at the dinner table to feel hungry, would you?
- Waking through the night is normal – so give yourself long enough in bed to accommodate this.
- Different bits of your brain power down in stages during sleep (and some power-up). One of the first to switch off controls your rational thoughts – leaving the emotional feelings to bubble-up unchecked – try not to worry about this worry! – it is normal and hopefully means you will be asleep soon….