Getting a good night's sleep is crucial for overall health and wellbeing. It can affect our mood, behaviour, and physical health. However, many people struggle with getting the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep per night.
Steps for Better Sleep
- Stick to a sleep routine
Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day helps regulate our body's internal clock. This routine helps our bodies anticipate when it's time to sleep and wake up, making it easier to fall asleep and wake up feeling refreshed. Even on weekends, it's essential to stick to this routine to avoid disrupting our sleep patterns.
- Create a comfortable sleep environment
Creating a comfortable sleep environment is essential for achieving better sleep. One of the key elements of a comfortable sleep environment is having a comfortable mattress and pillows. It's important to choose bedding that is soft, breathable, and comfortable against your skin. You may also want to consider investing in a weighted blanket, which can help reduce anxiety and promote relaxation.
It's also important to keep the room dark and cool. Even small amounts of light can interfere with your sleep quality, so investing in blackout curtains or blinds can be helpful. Keeping the room cool, between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit (15.5 to 19.5 degrees Celsius), can also help promote better sleep, as your body temperature naturally drops as you sleep.
Finally, minimising noise and distractions can help create a comfortable sleep environment. Try to eliminate any noise that might disturb your sleep, such as traffic or barking dogs. If you live in a noisy area, consider playing white noise to create a consistent background sound that can help drown out other sounds.
Place our natural Lavender Infused Reed Diffuser near your bed and inhale the calming scent of lavender to help you relax and fall asleep faster. Lavender has been shown to have a calming effect on the body, reducing anxiety and promoting relaxation.
- Avoid food and drinks before bed
Eating heavy meals or consuming caffeine or alcohol close to bedtime can disrupt our sleep. Caffeine is a stimulant that can make it difficult to fall asleep, while alcohol can interfere with the quality of our sleep. A glass of warm water with a few drops of freshly squeezed lemon is a great option before bed.
- Exercise regularly
Regular exercise can improve our sleep quality by reducing stress and promoting relaxation. However, it's essential to avoid exercising too close to bedtime, as it can increase our heart rate and make it difficult to fall asleep.
One study published in the Journal of Sleep Research found that people who exercised regularly had better sleep quality and reported feeling more alert during the day than those who didn't exercise. The study also found that people who exercised earlier in the day tended to have better sleep quality than those who exercised later in the day.
When it comes to exercises that can improve sleep quality, the most important thing is to find activities that you enjoy and that are suitable for your fitness level. Here are some examples of exercises that have been shown to promote better sleep quality:
- Aerobic exercise: Running, cycling, swimming, and other forms of aerobic exercise have been shown to be particularly effective at improving sleep quality. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise most days of the week.
- Yoga: Yoga combines physical postures with breathing exercises and meditation, making it an excellent choice for promoting relaxation and reducing stress. Certain types of yoga, such as restorative yoga or yoga nidra, are particularly effective at improving sleep quality.
- Tai chi: Tai chi is a gentle form of martial arts that involves slow, flowing movements and deep breathing. It has been shown to improve sleep quality by reducing stress and promoting relaxation.
- Resistance training: Weightlifting and other forms of resistance training can help improve sleep quality by promoting relaxation and reducing stress. Aim to incorporate resistance training exercises into your routine at least two to three times a week.
It's worth noting that any form of physical activity can be beneficial for sleep, as long as it's done regularly and at an appropriate intensity level. Whether you prefer to go for a brisk walk, dance to your favourite music, or participate in a team sport, finding an exercise routine that you enjoy and can stick to is key to improving your sleep quality.
- Reduce screen time before bed
The blue light emitted by electronic devices like smartphones, tablets, and laptops can disrupt our sleep patterns. This is because blue light suppresses the production of melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate sleep. It's essential to limit our screen time before bed or use blue light filters to minimise the effects of blue light.
According to a study conducted by the National Sleep Foundation, using electronic devices before bed can interfere with our ability to fall asleep, reduce the amount of time we spend in deep sleep, and leave us feeling less rested in the morning. The study found that people who used electronic devices before bed had lower sleep quality and were more likely to report feeling tired and irritable during the day.
- Practice relaxation techniques
Practicing relaxation techniques before bed can be a highly effective way to promote better sleep. When we're stressed or anxious, our bodies release hormones like cortisol that can interfere with our sleep. By practicing meditation, deep breathing, or progressive muscle relaxation, we can calm our minds and bodies, reduce stress, and lower our cortisol levels.
Meditation involves focusing our attention on a particular object, thought, or activity to achieve a state of mental clarity and emotional calmness. Deep breathing, on the other hand, involves taking slow, deep breaths, filling our lungs with oxygen, and focusing our minds on the sensation of breathing. Progressive muscle relaxation involves tensing and relaxing different muscle groups to promote physical relaxation.
It's important to note that relaxation techniques may not work for everyone, and it may take some trial and error to find the right technique that works best for us. Additionally, it's important to practice relaxation techniques regularly to see the full benefits. Even just a few minutes of meditation or deep breathing each day can make a significant difference in our sleep quality and overall wellbeing.
Taking a warm bath with our essential oil infused Sleep Time Bath Salts while practicing deep breathing will increase relaxation and help prepare the body for sleep. Warm water can help soothe tense muscles and promote relaxation, while Sleep Time Bath Salts will help calm the mind and reduce stress.
- Don't nap too long during the day
Napping during the day can be a great way to recharge our energy levels and improve our productivity. However, it's essential not to nap for too long or too late in the day, as this can disrupt our natural sleep patterns and make it difficult to fall asleep at night.
Aim for a nap of 20-30 minutes during the day, ideally in the early afternoon, to help boost energy levels and promote relaxation without interfering with our sleep at night. Longer naps can leave us feeling groggy and disoriented, making it harder to get back to our daily routine after waking up.
Food and Drinks To Avoid Before Sleep
As mentioned earlier, what we eat and drink before bed can affect our sleep. Here are some foods and drinks to avoid before bed:
Caffeine is a stimulant that can interfere with our sleep. It's essential to avoid consuming caffeine close to bedtime, including coffee, tea, soda, and chocolate.
While alcohol can make us feel drowsy, it can also interfere with our sleep. It can disrupt our sleep cycles and cause us to wake up frequently during the night.
- Heavy meals
Eating heavy meals close to bedtime can make it difficult to fall asleep. Digestion can interfere with our sleep, and the discomfort from overeating can keep us awake. This includes steak and potatoes, fried chicken, pasta with heavy sauces, burgers with fries, pizza with a lot of cheese and toppings, spicy foods, and foods high in fat or sugar. These types of meals take longer to digest and can cause discomfort, bloating, and indigestion, making it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep. To avoid these issues, it's best to opt for lighter, healthier options before bedtime.
- Spicy or acidic foods
Spicy or acidic foods can cause heartburn or indigestion, making it difficult to fall asleep. This includes chili peppers, Mexican or Thai cuisine, tomatoes or tomato-based sauces, citrus fruits such as oranges or grapefruits, vinegar-based dressings or sauces, and caffeine-containing foods or drinks like coffee, tea, or chocolate.
Do Women Need More Sleep?
It is a common belief that women need more sleep than men. While the exact amount of sleep required varies from person to person, research has shown that women may require more sleep than men. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that women need an average of 20 minutes more sleep than men per night.
This is because women tend to use more of their brains during the day, which results in more significant wear and tear. Women also tend to be more vulnerable to sleep disorders like insomnia, restless leg syndrome, and sleep apnea.
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