Sleep is really important for our wellbeing. Most of us would agree that we would love good quality sleep if we had the choice. Unfortunately, many of us struggle with our sleep. There are many reasons for this, and many positive behaviours we can adopt to help our chances in achieving a good quality sleep. There are several good habits that we can incorporate in our lives, and we refer to these as ‘sleep hygiene’.
A considerable amount of research has gone into developing a set of good habits and tips designed to encourage good sleep. These tips can provide long-term solutions to many people’s sleep difficulties.
There are medications used to treat sleep difficulties, but these tend to be effective only in the short-term, and can sometimes cause dependency. We recommend good ‘sleep hygiene’ as an excellent way to help treat sleep difficulties. Below you’ll find our list of ‘sleep hygiene’ tips.
1) Work on your routine: One of the best ways to train your body to sleep well is to go to bed and get up at the same time each day. It’s good to do this even on weekends and days off if possible. This helps regulate your circadian rhythm, which is the internal body clock your body works from so that it knows when it’s time to wake up or go to sleep.
2) The right sleep environment: It is very important that your bed and bedroom are the habitat for you to sleep in. The bedroom should be quiet, cool, and dark to support a comfortable environment for sleeping. Black out curtains and ear plugs could also help support this.
3) Go to bed when sleepy: It’s important you only try to sleep when you feel ready to sleep. If you feel tired or sleepy, that’s a good indicator it’s time to go to bed, rather than spending too much time feeling awake in bed, or forcing yourself to stay awake when you are really tired.
4) Get up & try again: If you have been in bed attempting to sleep for 20 minutes or more and find you are still struggling to sleep, get up and leave your bedroom. It is recommended you do something calming or boring until you feel sleepy. You can then return to bed and try again. Avoid doing anything that is too stimulating or interesting at this time, as this could wake you up even more. Try reading a relaxing book or listening to a sleep story or calming music. You could create a sleep box with lots of relaxing things to do all in one place to break open when you are struggling to sleep.
5) Avoid caffeine & nicotine: It is best to avoid consuming any caffeine at least 6 hours before bed. This is because caffeine acts as a stimulant and can interfere with your ability to sleep. Caffeine can be found in tea, coffee, fizzy drinks, chocolate, and even some medications. The same can be said for nicotine, which is commonly found in cigarettes. If at all possible, avoiding nicotine and caffeine for at least 6 hours before going to bed will give you the best chance of sleeping.
6) Avoid alcohol: It is also a good idea to avoid alcohol for at least 4-6 hours before going to
bed. It is a misconception that alcohol is relaxing and helps aid sleep. Alcohol may initially help you drift off to sleep but has been found to actually interrupt sleep quality, often making you wake more throughout the night.
7) Exercise: Regular exercise is great for sleep. Any form of exercise or activity can help tire the body and mind. As a rule, try not to do strenuous exercise around 4 hours before bedtime, as exercise can initially stimulate the body.
8) Develop regular sleep rituals: You can create your own routines or rituals to perform before bed to remind your body it is time to go to sleep. Helpful things to try include meditation, stretching, or sitting calmly with a caffeine-free warm drink.
9) Have a hot bath: Having a bath around 1-2 hours before bed can be a really useful tip to try. The bath will help raise your body temperature, which will drop when getting out of the bath. Research suggests that sleepiness is associated with a drop in body temperature.
10) Avoid clock-watching: Many people who struggle with sleep check the time too much. This is an unhelpful habit that causes stress and reinforces negative thinking. We can begin to fret about how long we have left until morning which can cause our body and mind to feel tense. We need to feel relaxed in order to sleep, so it’s best to avoid clock-watching at all costs if possible.
11) Avoid naps: It is best to avoid taking naps throughout the day. This is to give yourself the best chance of feeling tired at bedtime. People can sometimes get into the bad habit of napping throughout the day if they’ve had a poor night of sleep the night before. This will confuse your body clock and make it harder for you to sleep at night. Try your best to avoid naps and break this vicious cycle. If you really can’t manage without napping, try to nap for less than an hour, and before 3pm.
12) The bedroom is for sleeping: Try not to use your bed or bedroom for anything other than sleeping and sex. This is so your body and brain begin to associate your bedroom with sleep. Many people may use their bedroom as a place to work, watch TV, or eat. By doing this, your body is less likely to associate bed with sleep and recognise the connection.
Here at Ely Mattress, we really want to support you to have the best sleep possible. We’ve created the very best mattresses with a whole range of benefits to give you the greatest chance of improving your sleep and relaxation. For more information, please visit our online store.