Tips for Sleeping Better
Published: 15th February, 2023
Many of us have trouble sleeping, and it can seriously affect our day-to-day life. Whether it’s stress at work, a noisy household, or too much screen time, we are all likely to suffer from it at one time or another. It’s recommended that adults get between seven and eight hours of sleep per night, but how many of us actually are?
Weldricks Pharmacy shares advice on how to sleep well, improve your quality of sleep and reap the benefits by incorporating them into your routine.
Why is Sleep Important?
Getting a good night’s sleep is vital to your health and well-being. During sleep, your body works to support healthy brain function and maintain your physical health. Sleep is essential in the functioning of our bodies. The benefits of a good night's sleep are multifaceted. A lack of sleep can have a direct effect on both our physical and mental well-being. Sleep allows our body to repair itself, consolidate memories, and regulate growth and appetite. If sleep is cut short so are these processes. Getting an inadequate amount of sleep over time can cause long-term health problems, as well as affect how well you think, react, and get along with other people.
8 Ways to Improve Sleep
1. Be Consistent
Sticking to a sleep schedule is very important. Try and go to bed and get up at the same time every day, as this reinforces your body's sleep-wake cycle. Make sure you set aside no more than eight hours each night (adults should aim for at least seven hours per night).
Being consistent can be more tricky on weekends, when your routine may change, so make an effort to try and stick to your sleep schedule even on a Saturday night!
2. Avoid Certain Foods and Drinks
You shouldn’t go to bed hungry, or overly full. Try to eat a balanced meal a couple of hours before you go to bed, so you don’t feel uncomfortable. You should also avoid caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine. As stimulants, they can take hours to wear off, which can disturb your sleep or make it difficult to drop off in the first place.
3. Get Some Exercise
Regular physical activity can help improve your sleep, as well as your overall health. As a general goal, aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity every day. It’s important to try and complete your workout at least an hour before you go to bed, otherwise, it could take a while to wind down.
4. Limit Napping in the Day
If you’re prone to daytime napping, this could negatively impact your nighttime sleep. If you need to nap, try and ensure it’s under an hour, and that it’s not too late in the day.
5. Create a Relaxed Atmosphere
Make sure your room is quiet, dark, and at a comfortable temperature. Being too hot or too cold can affect your sleep, as well as any exposure to light. Consider using earplugs, room-darkening shades, or a fan in order to create an environment that’s right for you. In addition to this, you should ensure your mattress and pillows are comfortable and supportive.
6. Limit Screen Time
Scrolling through social media on our phones before going to sleep has become the norm for a lot of us, however, we should try and limit this as much as possible. It’s recommended that you stop using your phone and other blue light-emitting devices at least 30 minutes before bedtime. Try reading a book instead!
7. Manage Your Worries
Many of us have worries on our minds. Whether it’s work, relationships, health, or money, these common anxieties can drastically affect how well you sleep. There are techniques you can use in order to try and tackle this, such as talking to someone you trust or reframing unhelpful thoughts. It can also be a good idea to write a ‘to-do’ list for the following day, as this can be a good way of putting your mind at rest.
8. Don’t Force Sleep
If you find yourself lying wide awake at night unable to sleep, don't force it. Get up and do something relaxing for a little bit, like listening to quiet music or reading a book, and then go back to bed once you feel sleepier.
Other relaxing activities that can help encourage sleep include baths, meditation, deep breathing, and visualisation.
9. Create a bedtime routine
Your bedtime routine helps your body to wind down for the evening and signals that it is time to go to sleep soon. Your ritual may include a hot bath as well as a calming activity such as reading. You should avoid any activities that cause stress or excitement for up to two hours before sleeping.
What are the effects of poor-quality sleep?
A lack of sleep may result in weight gain. This is because sleep plays an important role in maintaining a healthy hormone balance that allows appetite to be regulated. Studies have shown that those getting a good night’s sleep are likely to eat fewer calories throughout the day than those who have not had a good night’s sleep. Eating more calories in a day can therefore lead to increased weight gain.
Sleep can also affect productivity and concentration. You may have felt this yourself, if you do not get a good night’s sleep you may not be able to concentrate, make decisions, or solve problems. In some cases, you may have accounted this to a lack of motivation, something that a lack of sleep can also have a negative impact on however, it is likely much more than this. Studies have shown that sleep deprivation can impair cognitive performance to the same level that the consumption of alcohol does. This can be a potentially life-threatening side effect of sleep deprivation; this is because people often drive despite a lack of sleep. These slower response times and a lack of concentration can then lead to car accidents.
The benefits of a good night’s sleep do not just stop at cognitive function and appetite regulation, sleep can also help your body to physically function more effectively. By not sleeping for between 6 and 9 hours, the time your body has to repair itself is cut short. While you are sleeping, your body repairs your muscles, helping to reduce inflammation and pain. This will allow your physical performance to be enhanced, in comparison to if you did not have a good night’s sleep. Studies show that grip strength can be affected, as well as speed and endurance.
Not only does a lack of sleep affect the way in which your body performs physically, but it can also actually lead to an increased risk of developing certain health conditions. Those who do not gain between 6 and 9 hours of sleep on a regular basis are at an increased risk of heart disease, strokes, and diabetes. This is because the body carries out important processes while we sleep. Sleep allows the heart and blood vessels to be repaired; if this is not done a person is at higher risk of heart disease. In addition to this, sleep helps to control insulin levels. If this is interrupted, blood sugar may be higher than normal resulting in diabetes.
A lack of sleep can also cause people to become ill with less serious conditions such as colds and viruses more frequently. This is because not getting enough sleep can impair the immune system, making you more susceptible to illness.
Mental Wellbeing and Mood
In addition to physical health, sleep deprivation also affects our mental well-being; it has been linked to an increased risk of poor mental health. Prolonged periods of insomnia can lead to the development of depression and in many cases linked to psychological stress of some kind. The Great British Sleep Survey launched in 2011 by Sleepio asked over 6000 participants questions regarding their sleep. The results showed that those who suffer from insomnia are 4x more likely to experience relationship issues. This means that they may have difficulty maintaining relationships with friends, family, and partners. This in itself is linked to low moods and eventually to depression in some cases.
In addition to this, 80% of participants who reported suffering from insomnia, also reported frequently feeling low in mood. This figure was 3x higher than those who reported sleeping well. 95% of participants who suffered disturbed sleep also reported low energy levels. Low energy levels can often cause people not to participate in exercise; an activity proven to help reduce stress and the risk of developing depression.
How to Sleep in the Heat
Sleeping in hot weather can be difficult, even for those who usually sleep well. There are however, some further steps you can take to help make sure you’re still getting a good night’s sleep no matter how hot it is outside.
Take a cool bath or shower before bed - this can help to cool the skin temperature, keeping you cool at night.
Soak your feet in cold water before bed - doing this ten minutes before you go to bed can help your body to remain cool.
Apply cold flannels or ice packs to your underarm or groin areas for a short period of time - the blood runs closest to the skin in these areas therefore applying something cool will help to reduce your temperature.
Remove excess clothing or bedding - sleeping in thick pyjamas or with winter bedding can cause you to be unnecessarily hot. Either sleep naked or wear thin, breathable pyjamas to cool down. You should also ensure bed sheets are thin and breathable. Cotton is a good choice for this.
Do not exercise just before bed - this can increase your internal temperature. You should try to exercise early on in the day if possible.
Do not eat hot or spicy meals just before bed - this can again increase your internal temperature.
Make sure your sleeping environment is as cool as possible. Open the windows to let in air. You may also want to use a fan or air conditioning.
Drink plenty of water - water can help you to feel refreshed and cool when you are too hot. Keep a glass of water by the bed so that you are able to cool down if you are too hot to sleep.
Maintain routine - routine is one of the most important factors in getting a good night’s sleep. One of the most important things to do when trying to sleep in hot weather is to maintain your normal bedtime routine and sleep schedule. This will help to keep your body clock regulated and allow you to fall asleep more easily.
Sleep Aids at Weldricks Pharmacy
If you are still having difficulty sleeping, you may want to try taking a sleeping aid. There is a range of sleeping aids including medicinal and natural sleep supplements. Here at Weldricks, we offer a range of aids to help you sleep.
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Improve Your Sleep Routine Today
We’ve given you our top tips for sleeping better, so why not give them a go? Think about what you might need to change about your routine in order to get the sleep you need so that you’re feeling fresh and ready to go in the morning.