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10 tips for better sleep

We all know how important getting a good night’s sleep is to be able to function in our day-to-day lives. On average, we should take around 15 minutes to fall asleep, but many of us take much longer to nod off. Almost half of us say that stress and worry keep us awake at night, according to the Sleep Council; as a result, only a fifth of Brits manage more than seven hours’ sleep a night.

Being sleep-deprived can leave us irritable and unfocussed during the day, but the NHS says the consequences could be much worse. Regular poor sleep could put you at risk of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.

If you’re struggling to fall asleep, or find yourself repeatedly waking up during the night, there’s a number of simple steps you can take to help get more sleep.

We’ve put together a list of 10 useful tips:

Keep mobile phones, laptops and TVs out of the bedroom. Many of us watch TV just before bed or check our ‘phones before we try to sleep. However, the blue light emitted by these devices is particularly disruptive and often stimulates rather than relaxes. 

Maintain the room temperature between 16-18ºC. We tend to sleep better when the room is at a cool temperature so ensure your room is well ventilated. A room which is too hot or too cold often affects the quality of our sleep.

Avoid caffeine and alcohol in the four to six hours before bed. Hot drinks are still a great way to relax so try decaffeinated tea or a mug of warm milk before bed. Alcohol should be avoided as it can lead to a restless night.

Exercise regularly but avoid working out too close to bedtime. People who exercise regularly can fall asleep more quickly and feel less tired during the day. Even ten minutes of light exercise can improve your sleep. However, it’s advisable to exercise during the daytime rather than the evening where possible. Working out too close to bedtime can interfere with your sleep.

Stick to a bedtime routine in the hour before bed - and relax. Keeping a relaxing routine before bed gives your body a chance to wind down after the stresses of the day. Try reading a book, taking a bath, or doing some light stretches before bed.

Try not to worry and don’t stare at the alarm clock. It may seem difficult, but try to avoid worrying about falling asleep as the stress stimulates the body to stay awake. Face away from the alarm clock so you can’t stare at it, and relax. Once you’re relaxed, sleep will follow.

Avoid daylight - if necessary, use blackout blinds. The hormone which regulates your sleep cycle - melatonin - is controlled by light exposure. The more daylight you’re exposed to, the more awake you’ll feel. So, whilst it is good to absorb the sunlight during the day, at night you should ensure your bedroom is as dark as possible.

Make sure your pillows and mattress are as comfortable as possible. If you’re waking up sore from your slumber you may need to invest in a new mattress and pillows. Experimenting with different levels of mattress firmness is beneficial. Picking the right mattress can be crucial to getting a good night’s sleep.

Avoid naps and lie-ins. Go to sleep and wake at consistent times. Going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day helps set your internal body clock and improves the overall quality of your sleep. If you stick to this routine, eventually you’ll wake up at the same time naturally rather than using an alarm.

Avoid eating and drinking too much before bed. In particular, avoid eating big, rich, or spicy meals too close to bedtime. They may cause heartburn or stomach troubles. Try not to drink too much before going to sleep as you may find yourself making several trips to the bathroom during the night.

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