Expert tips for better sleep
-Apr 24, Caroline Blight, Living -
Good lifestyle habits can help reduce the reasons for a bad night’s sleep and help you wake up feeling really rested.
Although we are all different, there are some common reasons for not enjoying a restful nights sleep. A poll of Brits by Harrison Spinks found that the most common reason for being not being able to get comfortable as the main reason (31%). ‘Feeling too hot’ (22%) and ‘experiencing pain’ (22%) were the next most popular responses. Almost a quarter (23%) said they had disturbed sleep every day of the week, with most people waking 3-4 times per night.
Worrying about how much and how well we have slept is something being discussed in workplaces and homes across the UK and James Wilson, Sleep expert and presenter of Channel 4’s The Secret of Sleep, says for many of us sleep seems a mystery.
“There is so much conflicting advice and lack of clarity on how to sleep well. Often people compare their sleep against an unrealistic expectation which increases anxiety around their sleep and leads them to worry more and sleep worse. I encourage people to understand what their sleep need is, in terms of quality and quantity, who they are as sleepers – larks, owls or typical – and what changes they need to make to their mindset, behaviours and sleep environment.”
Dropping off to sleep is in part a physical event which has some precursors. “To induce sleep we need to have a drop in heart rate – be relaxed – and a drop in core temperature – be cool – so we need to consider if what we do before bed and what we sleep on and under helps this process. Too many people try and actively force sleep, when what we need to do to sleep better is create the right conditions for sleep to come to us.”
The survey also showed that, of those surveyed, 93% of people wake up at some point in the night. Almost nine out of ten (87%) people reported disturbed sleep (waking up a lot) at least once a week with almost a quarter (23%) saying their sleep is disturbed every night.
Here are five top tips to help you nod off more easily – and stay asleep.
“A dark, quiet room is optimal for helping to avoid instances of waking throughout the night. Ear plugs and black out blinds may be a useful investment if you’re disrupted by noise or light. Being too hot or cold can be detrimental to sleep quality and increase wakefulness. Around 20°C is thought to be the optimum sleep temperature.”
“Write down any worries you may have or any tasks that need to be done tomorrow. This will free your mind from the clutter in your head, and will help you to be more prepared for bedtime and the morning.”
Ailsa Frank, Hypnotherapist and author of ‘Cut the Crap and Feel Amazing’
“Laptops, televisions, phones – all electronic devices and gadgets in the bedroom interfere with your body’s natural electrical flow even when they are switched off, so banish as many of them as possible.”
Neil Shah, from The Stress Management Society
“Choose foods that contain amino acids, vitamin B6, magnesium to facilitate the increase of melatonin produced by the body. These include oily fish, rice, hummus, miso soup, cheese and diary and almonds.”
Mihaela Berciu owner of Mindfulness Hub
“If you wake up in the night due to factors such as night sweats or needing a pee and you get frustrated or annoyed by the interruption, find a mantra that you can repeat to yourself to reduce your irritation. Something like ‘it’s okay to wake up because I will be able to go back to sleep soon once I’ve cooled down/peed’. Repeating this during the day, evening, and if you wake up can stop your mind going into frustrated overdrive which of course keeps you awake.”
Mary Nash, Health Coach