Did you know March is National Bed Month! This is the time to assess your sleeping habits and improve them. According to the NHS statistics ⅓ of us suffer from sleepless nights and sleep studies have shown a lack of sufficient sleep can lead to serious health problems including heart disease, heart attacks, diabetes and obesity. So its times to improve and get your full 8 hours of efficient sleep, but if you are struggling here are some steps to help make drifting off that little bit easier.
A bad night’s sleep was after all the motivation behind creating Sofa Bed Sofa so as you can imagine we’re fanatical about catching those zzzz's so we’ve put together our fool proof guide on how to get a good night’s sleep. Some of the tips you might know already, and others might be just what you need to drift into a peaceful slumber.
Keep To A Sleep Schedule
Your circadian rhythm is responsible for regulating your natural sleep pattern and when this is disturbed by the events of everyday life such as late nights, jet lag etc we start to feel fatigued. Keeping a regular sleep pattern by going to bed and getting up at the same time every day will enable you to feel much more refreshed and get the best quality sleep possible. You may be tempted to get up later at the weekends, allowing yourself a little more time cocooned in the duvet, but keeping a strict sleep schedule will in fact help you to feel more rested.
Try to avoid taking those afternoon trips to the land of nod, this will just mean you will be more awake when you should be asleep at night. Try going to bed that little bit earlier instead, but if a nap is really needed in the day keep it short, 15-20 mins in the early afternoon will do nicely.
Our circadian biological clock is regulated by an area of the brain called the Suprachiasmatic Nucleus that responds to light. Light intake through the eye fires signals in the brain that it’s time to wake up. When light begins to fade it will signal the opposite and start preparing the body for sleep. If you want to fall quickly into a deep peaceful sleep then try to eliminate all light sources from the bedroom. Digital displays, phone power lights, light leakage from outside can all contribute to poor sleep. Blackout blinds, sleep masks, and spending a little time reducing the impact of any light sources in the bedroom can all help you avoid having to count sheep!
Cool calm and collected
Bright colours, clutter, and noise can wreak havoc with your sleep quality. Try to create a calm, clear, and peaceful bedroom environment. Pale neutral colours on the walls and soft furnishings are easy on the eye, and clearing away any clutter so that the space is ordered and neat will create a tranquil atmosphere. Temperature is key; too hot or too cold and you could be tossing and turning all night. Keeping your body warm but your head cool will let you drift off to the land of nod and stay there till dawn. Somewhere around 16 -18C is considered the ideal temperature for a bedroom
Power down at the end of the day
Making an effort to relax and unwind at the end of the day will work wonders for your sleep. Close the laptop, turn your phone off, and stay away from digital devices. Run a hot bath before bed to ease aching muscles and give yourself the chance to take some time out away from it all. If you struggle to stop your mind racing when you hit the hay then keep a notebook by your bedside. Writing down all those last minute thoughts will allow you to doze off safe in the knowledge they will be there in the morning and not forgotten.
Zen it out
Many people swear by pillow spray as an aid to sleep; scents like lavender, chamomile, and ylang-ylang activate the alpha wave activity in the back of your brain, which leads to relaxation. When in bed try to clear your mind and focus on your breathing. Inhale for 5 seconds, pause for 3, then exhale to a count of 5. Start with 8 repetitions, gradually increase to 15.This will help reduce your heart rate and blood pressure, release endorphins, and relax your body ready for restful slumber.
Cancel that ‘cuppa’ after 2pm
Did you know that caffeine stays in your system for 8 hours? That means that your 4pm cuppa will still be having an effect on you at midnight! Too much caffeine can cause havoc when it comes to sleeping so cutting it out after 2pm in the afternoon can help you get off to sleep. Tea, coffee, cola, energy drinks all contain caffeine so check the label to see if what you sip will ruin your kip!
Eat late, you’ll sleep late
Eating large rich spicy meals late at night won’t do you any favours in the sleep department! Avoiding heavy rich foods within 2 hours of bed will help you peacefully nod off and not be kept awake by digestive discomfort or heartburn. As for knocking back a nightcap I’m afraid it’s bad news there too! Alcohol can make you fall asleep quicker but it reduces sleep quality resulting in you waking up later in the night. If you really do feel the urge to have a late snack try drinking a class of milk or some herbal tea (decaffeinated of course). These will both fix your craving and help you nod off.
Cardio is the way to go
Exercise, especially cardio, improves the length and quality of your sleep. Just 30 minutes of high energy exercise can keep your body temperature elevated for around 4 hours afterwards inhibiting sleep so timing your exercise is essential. When your body begins to cool down it sends signals to the brain which then releases sleep-inducing melatonin making you drowsy. Getting in an early morning or lunchtime workout will pay dividends later in the day.
Freshen up your bedding
Nothing feels better than clean sheets! Make sure you keep your bedding fresh and smelling great, this will make an inviting place for you at the end of the day. Using fabric softener scents like lavender can also help and act as an aromatherapy treatment whilst you lay in the comfort of your bed.
Choose your bedmates wisely
In a recent survey by the Telegraph nearly half of all dog owners admitted to letting their pooch sleep on the bed. Snuggling up with your furry friend can be comforting, but snoring, scratching, sniffing and smells can keep you awake and over half of all pet owners report their pet as a cause for disturbed sleep. Cats can be active late at night and early in the morning, and your toes poking out from under the covers can often provide the entertainment they are looking for! If your pets are keeping you up at night consider turfing them out of the bedroom to see if your sleep improves.
Pull your socks up!
I know it’s probably not the most attractive thing you’ve worn in bed but bed socks really can help you to doze off. According to a study in 1999 having warm hands and feet helps you to fall asleep more quickly. Speed up the process of snoozing by popping on a pair of bed socks before you slip between the sheets!
Make sure you’re comfy
Make sure you sleep on the right type of mattress and pillow for your needs. We have a post all about our mattresses here to ensure you get the best night’s sleep possible.
So there you have it, our top tips to help you improve your sleep pattern and quality, leaving you feeling refreshed and revitalised when the morning alarm sounds.