Snoozeville. Dreamland. The Land of Nod. Whatever you call it, a good night’s sleep is the ultimate secret weapon when it comes to a productive and satisfying life at home and at work. Sleep experts say that we need 7-8 hours of sleep every night to be at our best.
Insufficient sleep can lead to a whole world of problems relating to your mood, your efficiency and even your health. It is believed that a lack of sleep can contribute to depression, heart problems and a diminished attention span.
Your work life can suffer too! Employees who aren’t getting enough shut-eye are likely to have reduced productivity and to struggle with motivation. So your sleeping pattern can have a direct effect on your professional success.
It’s important to understand the value of getting enough deep sleep on a regular basis. Whether you struggle to nod off at night or not, everyone can enjoy the benefits of following our top tips for a super slumber:
1. Get your room in order
Your sleeping environment can affect the quality of sleep you get. So, get your bedroom sleep-ready!
2. Prepare your body for sleep
Living an active lifestyle can do wonders for your health and even your sleeping pattern! Partaking in regular exercise can help you sleep better at night, and can be a great way to wear yourself out. But remember, don’t exercise within 4 hours of bedtime; you need to leave enough time for your body to be ready to rest and for the adrenaline and endorphins released during physical activity to settle down.
Stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine can keep you up at night, so try to avoid these, along with alcohol, in the evenings. Also, try not to eat a big meal within 2 or 3 hours of when you’re planning on going to bed, if your tummy starts to rumble, a light snack no later than 45 minutes before bed should keep the hunger pangs at bay.
TIP: Do you ever suffer from indigestion at night? Try sleeping on your left side, as some studies suggest that this allows your digestive system to settle.
3. Wind down
Implementing a relaxation routine in the evening can train your body to be ready for sleep.
For example, sleep experts place value on dimming the lights a couple of hours before bed time which will trigger the sleep hormone, melatonin. Bright lights or ‘blue light’ (from TVs, phones and other technological devices) can actually make your brain stay awake, so try to keep these to a minimum as bedtime approaches. If you’re a keen bookworm who likes to read before bed, then you could try a lower powered bulb so you can still enjoy your book without affecting your ability to fall asleep later.
Dim the lights around your home 2 to 3 hours before bedtime. Lower light levels signal your brain to make melatonin, the hormone that brings on sleep.
4. Sleep routine
You may not have had a set bedtime since you were ten years old, but don’t underestimate what it can do for you! Having a defined routine for your sleep allows your circadian rhythm to come into play. If you commit to going to sleep and waking up at the same times every day (yes, even on the weekend where possible), you’ll soon find that your body naturally falls into this pattern. This will leave you falling asleep almost on cue at night, and waking up refreshed in the morning!
TIP: To get into this habit, set an alarm for waking up and set one for bedtime. Also, don’t hit that snooze button in the morning; this can do more harm than good and leave you feeling groggy.
5. Clear your mind
Most of us will be familiar with the feeling of staring at the ceiling while a million thoughts whiz through our minds. Money troubles, personal problems, worries about work or even that stupid thing you did today – mulling these over at night can keep you wide awake for hours. Don’t let it happen!
The chances are that there really isn’t much you can do to rectify the situation at midnight on a Tuesday, in your flannel pyjamas, so just let it go. If you’re having trouble shaking these thoughts, get up, go to another room and write your thoughts down. This will let you express your feelings, explore resolutions and then put them to bed for the night.
Similarly, don’t look at your clock if you wake up in the night, knowing how much or how little time you have left for sleep can also keep you awake. If necessary, turn your clock to face away from you and leave your phone out of reach.
Falling asleep (and staying asleep) with all the distractions life throws at us is not always easy. However, do all you can to prevent sacrificing golden sleep. These tips should help snooze your way to a better you!