We’ve all been there, especially with what is going on currently – counting sheep during the night as sleep evades you or waking up and feeling more tired than you were before you went to bed. Your mood takes a dive and the day just seems to drag. You rue not getting enough sleep.
How much is enough when it comes to sleep? According to Motty Varghese, Sleep Physiologist with the Sleep Therapy Clinic in St. James’s Hospital, the recommended duration is over 7 hours per night. What is most important is that we get between 6 and 10 hours. Going to bed late and waking to an alarm clock is not a good practice, instead you should try going to bed earlier and waking naturally. But there are many other factors that can help you get a better night’s sleep and wake up feeling very refreshed.
Set up your bedroom for sleeping
Your bedroom should be a quiet, dark and comfortable place where you are likely to quickly relax and is conducive to sleeping. Consider your own sleeping environment – the quality of your mattress and bedding, whether your curtains sufficiently block out the light outside and the temperature of the room.
Have a consistent bedtime
As best you can, try to go to bed and wake up around the same every day, recognising of course this is more difficult at the weekend or when on holidays. Your body will adjust to a regular schedule and will realise that “now is sleep time”.
Reduce your daytime naps
Daytime naps can really throw your body out of kilter. Don’t nap for long during the day or don’t snooze late in the day – you’ll pay for it that night.
Ban phones and tablets in the bedroom
A major sleep killer is the light emitted from a phone or tablet and indeed the stimulus of the content that you read. They make it much harder for your body to shift into sleep mode. Don’t be tempted for that last Facebook catch-up, you could end up paying for it as you then lie awake.
Have a good pre-sleep routine
A relatively easy one to implement – try and go through the same routine every night in preparing for sleep. Again, your body relaxes in a well-worn routine and transitions towards sleep mode.
Cut out Caffeine (and any other stimulants)
Caffeine is a known stimulant that can have a significant effect on your sleep. Sleep experts say that you should have up to an 8-hour gap between your last cup of coffee and bedtime. Evening coffee is a no-no.
Exercise definitely helps sleep
Regular exercise helps so many facets of your life – your physical health, your mental wellbeing and your mood in general. Whether it’s a trip to the gym or a short walk, it all helps. One word of caution though is not to exercise just before bedtime, as this can leave you quite stimulated and have the opposite to the desired effect.