Christmas seems a rather long time ago now. In fact it’s hard to believe we are five weeks into 2017 – and five weeks into our New Year resolutions too (if you made any, that is!).
‘Exercise more’ came top of our poll when we asked what your resolution was for the forthcoming year. Nearly half of those who answered said increasing the amount of exercise they did was important. Sleep better came second (23%), and hot on the heels was eat healthier with 21% of the votes.
We are glad to see these three taking priority. They all work in conjunction with each other. There’s no point exercising more and eating better if you’re experiencing poor sleep health. We know that lack of sleep makes us crave junk food and leaves us lethargic, making it harder for us to feel motivated for the gym.
However while it is easy to eat more fruit or veg or head to the gym more frequently, how many of us actually know how to sleep better? It’s not as easy as saying I want to get more sleep, I want to fall asleep quicker or not wake up as early. While we may want to do that, we don’t know how to go about it.
Assessing your sleep quality and comfort levels is the first step in achieving a good night’s sleep.
• Your sleep environment: Is your bedroom calm and relaxing? Make sure you keep clutter out of the bedroom – it’s not a dumping ground for the rest of the house. Keeping your bedroom quiet, cool and dark will also help create the ideal environment.
• Do you have the right bed? Having the correct bed for you is the foundation of a quality night’s sleep. Research shows that sleeping on an uncomfortable bed could deprive you of up to an hour’s sleep a night. As your bed slowly deteriorates, so does your sleep quality. We suggest seven years as an average replacement guide.
To ensure you experience good quality sleep it’s essential to follow good lifestyle habits too. Here’s some pointers:
• Keep a routine: Our bodies love routine when it comes to sleep, so make sure you don’t neglect it. Going to bed and getting up at roughly the same every day helps to programme the body to sleep better.
• Turn off electronics: TVs, smart phones, laptops, radios and games consoles all have a significant impact on our sleeping habits. Using a gadget just before bed makes it harder to switch off and wind down. Even exposure to the weakest glow of blue, electronic light – such as a notification flashing up on your mobile phone – can unconsciously play havoc with your body’s circadian rhythms, keeping you alert when you should be sleepy.
• Wind down… Bedtime is your time to switch off – or it should be. Meditation is a great tool to help calm our minds down and relax our bodies. You could also try having a warm bath before bed, listening to quiet music, deep breathing or yoga. If you’re the sort of person who starts to worry when you get into bed, or makes ‘to do’ lists in your head, try writing down the things you need to tackle – you can deal with those in the morning after a good night’s sleep!
• Cut the coffee – and the wine! Cut down on stimulants such as caffeine in tea or coffee – especially in the evening. They interfere with falling asleep and prevent deep sleep. Have a hot milky drink or herbal tea instead. As we’re all starting our new year’s diets, over-indulging might not be as big of an issue in January, but too much food or alcohol just before bedtime can play havoc with sleep patterns. Alcohol may help you fall asleep initially, but will interrupt your sleep later on in the night.