A good night's sleep leaves you energised, improves your attention span and memory, and aids muscle recovery. We’ve searched for some expert, easy-to-follow tips to help you improve the quality of your sleep.
So, what is a good night’s sleep? For most of us it means falling asleep quite easily, not waking up too much or for too long during the night, getting around 8 hours of sleep a night (although this depends on the person), and feeling refreshed in the daytime. If you aren’t getting that good night’s sleep, these tips and habits should help.
1. Lose weight if you need toBeing overweight is linked to sleep apnea, which is when you stop breathing for a time. This can ruin your chances of a good night's sleep. Losing weight can reduce the risk of sleep apnea. So, if you need to - drop a few kilos. Losing weight may also reduce snoring – but no guarantees on this one!
2. Move more during the dayModerate exercise during the day can relieve tension, improve your mood, boost your immunity, improve health and general fitness – all of which better your chances for a night of good quality sleep. It doesn’t have to be high intensity; it can be as simple as walking for 30 minutes every day, or even playing with the kids, or doing physically active chores like mowing the lawn or mopping the floor.
3. Stay away from alcoholAlcohol might make you drowsy, but it’s a stimulant that can wake you in the night, disrupting your sleep. One of the hallmarks of quality sleep is minimal waking periods, so if you want regular, good quality sleep, avoid alcohol.
4. Have a dark, quiet, cool bedroomThere’s nothing quite as irritating as a barking dog at 2am. Your sleep environment can also – in more subtle ways – disrupt your sleep. Too much light and your body may start thinking its morning and wake up. Too warm or too cold and your body cannot settle at a comfortable temperature. So, aim for a dark, quiet room that is around 18°C.
Cut down on screen time before bedtime
5. Keep late night screen time to a minimumThe curse of connection! Screen time does two things that reduce the quality of your sleep. It keeps you alert, so when you are trying to fall asleep, you’re still thinking about that pic or post. Screens can also emit blue light, which can reduce the amount of melatonin in your body, reducing sleep quality. Try and shut screens down early in the evening.
6. Check for any underlying health issues or sleep disordersIf you consistently don’t get enough sleep, cannot fall asleep or perhaps wake up choking and gasping for air, you may have a sleep disorder or health problem disrupting your sleep. Keep a sleep diary showing when you go to sleep, when you wake up and how you feel when you wake up and during the day to help diagnose any problems. Visit your GP who can give you a general check-up and recommend a sleep specialist if necessary.
Keep it real, keep it simpleWhen you’re up at 1am you might start searching for tips on how to sleep – there are many. Some will work for you, some won’t. So, keep it simple and start with the basics we’ve listed above and give it some time to work out. If that doesn’t help you rest well – consider consulting your GP.