Most people would agree that regular good quality sleep is very important if we want to live full, happy and healthy lives. Isn’t it amazing then how many people don’t get enough quality sleep and end up being tired, miserable, and less productive and enthusiastic for what life has to offer than they could be as a result?
If you could do with some better-quality sleep on a more regular basis, here’s are Tontine’s 10 steps to a better night’s sleep.
Step 1 - Be consistent.
One of the keys to getting great sleep on a regular basis is to keep a regular sleep schedule. This means on average going to bed and waking up at the same time each day.
Also, work back from your wake-up time to figure out what the ideal time to go to bed is. Some people can perform at their best with fewer hours sleep than others, while others need a little bit more sleep to be at their best. Figure out how much sleep you really need with some experimentation and then simply work back from your wake-up time to determine the best time for you to go to bed. For example, if you wake up most mornings at 6am and you need 8 hours sleep to be at your best, set yourself a bedtime of around 10pm each night.
Step 2 – Don’t consumer stimulants too close to bedtime.
For most of us, these stimulants include foods and drinks containing caffeine or that are high in sugar, including alcohol.
Step 3 – Make sure you have no medical conditions affecting your sleep.
A great example of a medical condition that can affect your quality of sleep is sleep apnea. If you snore loudly and regularly, this could be a sign that you might have sleep apnea. Many people who suffer from sleep apnea are constantly exhausted, regardless of how much sleep they get each night.
If you are constantly exhausted, or you think you might have sleep apnea, speak to your local GP and ask them to refer you to a specialist sleep doctor or clinic.
Step 4 – Don’t take naps during the day.
Taking afternoon naps isn’t generally a good idea, because this can make it more difficult to fall asleep at night, when you should be sleeping.
Once you’re regular sleeping patterns have been disrupted, it can be very difficult to get them back to normal again.
Step 5 – Monitor and regulate your sleeping temperature.
While most of us have differences when it comes to sleeping temperatures, which explains why many wives can be cold while their husbands are hot sleeping under the same quilt as each other, there are bedding accessory options to assist in helping you maintain your preferred body temperature in bed. Examples of this include quilts with different warmth ratings and pillows and quilts with adding cooling features, like moisture wicking covers.
If you generally sleep hot and wake up in the night sweating, look for cooling bedding options. Alternatively, if you wake up at night and feel cold, look at quilt options with extra warmth, adding blankets to your bed, or getting yourself an electric blanket.
The other thing to manage, which relates to this is the temperature of your bedroom. The ideal temperature for sleep is said to be between 15-20°C, so you’ll need to do some experimentation to find out what’s right for you.
Step 6 – Manage the noise and light in your bedroom.
As well as making sure your bedroom and bedding help you maintain the ideal body temperature for you, also make sure that you’ve done everything you can to make sure your bedroom is as quiet and dark and calm as possible.
Step 7 – Get some exercise daily.
Getting regular daily exercise of at least 30 minutes is shown to aid with better quality sleep. For one thing, exercise will help you feel a bit more tired, and it can help you get oxygen pumping to your muscles, lungs and brain, which has lots of other benefits including reducing stress.
Step 8 – Try to avoid stress.
Speaking of stress, try to avoid thinking about stressful things at night before you go to bed. Don’t go to bed and try to solve any problems or issues that are best tackled in the morning after a regenerative and refreshing night’s sleep. You’ll be clear headed after a restful night’s sleep and therefore ready to tackle any of life’s challenges.
Step 9 - Limit work and screen time late at night.
If you work late at night or engage in active screen time before going to bed, there’s a good chance this will impact your quality of sleep. These types of activities stimulate rather than relax our brains, so are not conducive to a restful and relaxed night’s sleep.
Step 10 – Get a comfortable and supportive bed, mattress and pillow.
As you can see, we’ve left your bedding till last, but it is certainly among the most important elements to get right if you are to enjoy the best possible sleep you can each night.
We could write individual articles on each bedding element, such as your mattress or pillow, and how to choose the perfect ones for you, which we have, but without going too deep into it, here’s what you should consider for each:
Mattress – generally speaking, get the best mattress you can afford and make sure it’s both comfortable and supportive. What’s comfortable varies greatly between us all, so make sure your mattress is comfortable for you.
If you purchase a mattress and you’re not 100% happy with how comfortable it is, or if its comfort has decreased over time, consider adding a mattress topper to it, which will add an extra layer of comfort.
Pillow- again, generally speaking, get the best pillow you can afford. Make sure your pillow suits your body size and shoulder width, along with your sleeping position preference. It’s really important that you pillow is supportive as well as comfortable. If you have pack or neck pain, or you require more support that a regular polyester pillow can provide, consider a latex or memory foam pillow.
Oh, and make sure you replace your pillows regularly. Old, worn out pillows offer neither support or comfort and with pillows costing relatively little, there’s no real excuse to be sleeping on a tired old pillow that is well past its use-by date.