5 Steps to Better Sleep
Quality sleep is essential to both our physical and mental functioning. We’ve all experienced a poor night’s sleep, only to feel tired and groggy the next day. Thankfully, we’ve got 5 simple steps to help you sleep better.
Understanding your body clock, or circadian rhythm, is the first step to sleeping better. This is a natural system, your internal timekeeper, which responds to light and gives us cues when it’s time to go to bed. The best thing you can do to keep your body clock in check is go to bed at the same time each night. Yes, even on weekends! Changing your sleep routine on Saturday and Sunday can contribute to poor sleep midweek. It also helps to wake up at the same time each morning and let light into your room as soon as you rise.
We already know that your body clock reacts to light signals, so shutting out the light is a sensible decision if you aim to improve your sleep. Dim the lights before bedtime and turn off electronic devices. The light-emitting screens suppress the release of sleep-inducing melatonin and make it more difficult to fall asleep. Blackout curtains are great at blocking light from outside distractions like streetlights or glowing summer evenings, which can be just as detrimental to high quality sleep.
The ideal room temperature for sleep varies for different people, but is thought to be a cool 16 – 19 degrees Celsius for most adults, and slightly warmer for some young children or the more elderly among us. Keeping electrical devices out of the bedroom can help maintain a cool room, since these give out a lot of heat (not to mention distractions), and use LED lights over incandescent bulbs, as these give out less heat and are more efficient. You’ve probably heard the phrase “it’s not the heat, it’s the humidity”, and it certainly rings true in the summer months, but investing in a dehumidifier can make your bedroom feel more comfortable for sleep at the same temperature. If you like to be covered when you sleep, but can’t handle the warmth of your normal bedding, switch to a lighter duvet with a tog rating of 4.5 or lower in the summer. Being too warm can make it hard to drift off and wake you up in the night.
Memory foam mattresses mould around your body and adapts with your movements to ease joint pain, keep your spine aligned and your body comfortable. First designed for NASA seat cushioning over 50 years ago, the technology has grown in popularity for pillows and mattresses. On a traditional mattress, motion can create waves and disturb sleep. One benefit of memory foam is its ability to absorb motion, making it great for couples sharing a bed.
A comfortable pillow can make a huge difference in the quality of your sleep. Offering head and neck support, the firmness level of pillows are specifically designed for front, back and side sleepers. If you like a cooler surface, a temperature reactive pillow will help you keep a cool head, enabling you to fall asleep faster. For a healthy sleep environment, it is a good idea to replace them every 2 years or once they lose height or become misshapen.
Ensure your sleeping environment is at the right temperature, blocks out light and uses bedding comfortable to you, and your nights should be restful and restorative.