After a stressful 12 months, we need all the rest and relaxation we can get in 2021! Getting good quality sleep is essential for good health, which is why it should always be a top priority. In general, adults should get around six to nine hours of sleep a night, although many of us struggle to achieve this. I am definitely someone that needs at least 8 to not be super-cranky the next day.
If you find it hard to fall asleep or you regularly wake during the night, there’s a good chance you’ll feel sluggish, fatigued and tense the following day. Over time, chronic sleep problems can cause a range of symptoms, including, trouble concentrating, low mood, weakened immunity and weight gain. I’ve really been struggling to get to sleep lately; tossing and turning for hours and it’s really not helped my mood at all.
However, sleep problems don’t have to be part of your life. By making relatively minor changes to your lifestyle, you can greatly enhance the quality of your sleep and increase the amount of sleep you get. Here are some of the tips I’ve been following to try and improve my sleep over the past few months.
- Declutter Your Bedroom
If your sleeping environment is cluttered or messy, it won’t facilitate a good night’s rest. Spend the day decluttering and discard or donate items you no longer need or use. Take a look at what remains and decide what really needs to stay in your bedroom and what can be placed elsewhere in your home. S and I did this just before Christmas ready for many different reasons and it’s been so good for my mind.
If you need extra storage, look for options that keep your things out of sight. New wardrobes, extra drawers or cupboard space, stylish storage trunks etc. When you can keep things out of sight, there’s less likely to impede relaxation and affect your sleep.
- Check Your Mattress
A comfortable mattress doesn’t just promote sleep, it can enhance your health too. If you can feel the springs through your mattress or it’s starting to sag, it might be time to invest in a new one. Similarly, if you experience cold-like symptoms or regularly wake up with a sore throat, your mattress or bedding could be triggering allergies. Cleaning your mattress regularly or using hypoallergenic mattress can be an effective way to resolve this. I literally never knew hoovering your mattress was a thing but now it’s my favourite thing to do when I’m changing the sheets (when I remember to as well obviously ha ha!)
If your mattress has seen better days but you’re not ready to purchase another one, consider a mattress topper instead. This can increase your comfort and improve sleep quality and is a budget-friendly alternative to buying a new mattress which can be super spenny.
- Keep Your Bedroom for Sleeping
When space is at a premium, it’s tempting to turn your bedroom into a multi-purpose room. If you’re working from home, for example, you may have created a makeshift workspace in your bedroom in order to minimise noise and disturbances. Don’t get me wrong I love a morning of ‘soft office’ working. However, using your bedroom for work can make it harder to get to sleep at night, even if you log off well before you go to bed. If possible, try to move your workstation to somewhere else in your home and see if it impacts your sleeping habits.
- Try Supplements
For many people, taking supplements helps them to fall asleep more easily and get a restful night. Melatonin can promote sleep, for example, while CBD gummies can help you to feel more relaxed. Similarly, magnesium, glycine and ashwagandha are all known to relieve tension and aid sleep.
As well as taking supplements to enhance sleep quality, you may want to assess your diet and see whether it could be contributing to your sleep problems. Consuming caffeinated drinks in the evening might be keeping you awake, for example. Alternatively, an afternoon energy slump could mean that you’re more alert when it’s time to go to bed. Making changes to your diet can be a good way to ensure you get a better night’s sleep, particularly if you tend to eat dinner late at night or drink coffee or fizzy drinks in the evening.
- Do More Exercise
If you aren’t very active during the day, your body may not feel tired at night. By increasing your physical activity and incorporating exercise into your day-to-day routine, you might find it easier to sleep. While a high-intensity workout could certainly do the trick, even a brisk walk can have a beneficial effect on your health and sleep quality.
For most people, exercising in the evening means they feel more alert, which doesn’t promote sleep. Due to this, it can be most effective to exercise in the morning or afternoon, rather than at night. However, others find that exercising before bed makes them ready to crash out, so experiment with your schedule to find out what works for you. Personally for me, I love to get up and go if I can (a Saturday morning run has become a habit at the moment) or when I’m working a lunch-time HIIT Session is my go-to.
- Keep a Sleep Diary
You certainly know when you’ve had a bad night’s sleep, but do you know why? It can be tricky to link sleep quality to lifestyle habits but keeping a sleep diary could give you an insight into what’s causing your sleep problems. Make a note of how much sleep you got the night before, as well as whether you woke frequently during the night. At the same time, try to write a brief synopsis of your day. When you look back at your diary, you’ll be able to see whether there are any obvious links between how you spent your day and how well you slept.
Although you can do this with a pen and piece of paper, some people find it easier to log their sleep using an app or fitness device. Some fitness trackers even have extra features to monitor your sleep activity, which can be a great way to get a better insight into how much you’re sleeping and what type of sleep you’re getting.
- Avoid Oversleeping
When you’re short of sleep, nothing’s better than a long lie-in, or is it? Getting a few extra hours of shut-eye at the weekend might seem like a good way to catch up on the sleep you’ve missed but it could exacerbate your sleep problems.
Our bodies like routine and they get used to waking and sleeping at usual times. If you disrupt this with a lie-in, you could put your body clock and sleep cycle out of whack. Attempting to ‘catch up’ isn’t associated with any major health benefits, so your beloved lie-in could be doing more harm than good.
- Take Part in a Sleep Study
If changes to your lifestyle aren’t having a noticeable impact on your sleep quality, you may want to discuss the issue with your doctor. If left untreated, insomnia can have a detrimental impact on every area of your life, so it’s well worth getting some medical advice.
If necessary, your doctor may refer you to a sleep study provider. Although there are various different types of sleep studies, most involve wearing non-invasive equipment to monitor your brain waves, body temperature and heart rate as you sleep. Experts then assess the results to determine why you’re struggling to get to sleep at night. The results can help to uncover any underlying causes which could be causing your sleep problems and may provide the solution you need.
9. Make Sleep a Top Priority
When you’ve got a busy schedule or a never-ending ‘to-do’ list, it’s tempting to stay up until the late hours to try and get everything done. Alternatively, you might set your alarm an hour or two earlier to try and get on top of things. However, reducing your sleep won’t have a positive impact on your productivity. In fact, it’s more likely to make you less efficient. By prioritising sleep and enjoying a restful night, you’ll perform better at work or school and be happier and healthier.
10. Switch off before bed
Something both myself and my other half have been doing for the last 6 months has been to not touch our phones for at least 30 minutes before going to bed. Instead, we brush our teeth, complete our skincare routine and sit in bed together and read a book each for half an hour before switching the lights off and settling down to sleep. It’s been a game changer in getting a better quality of sleep. A good pillow spray can never go a miss too!