Sunday 1 March 2020

Let’s face it; when we have a bad night’s sleep, we feel pretty ratty the next day. If you can’t seem to achieve a deep level of sleep most nights, poor sleep can become a real problem and affect other parts of your life.

However, there are lots of small improvements you can make to your sleep routine and bedroom environment that can help to ensure you are achieving a high quality of sleep each night.

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Why Poor Quality Sleep is Unhealthy

As well as affecting our mood, insufficient sleep can create a multitude of other mental and physical problems.

The NHS website explains in detail why a lack of sleep is bad for you. It can have serious consequences if left untreated over a prolonged amount of time. It can lead to other severe health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and obesity, not to mention it is also responsible for decreasing a person’s life expectancy.

However, the damaging effects of inadequate sleep don’t just stop at your physical health. It can also negatively impact your mental health and develop into disorders such as anxiety and depression. Additionally, a poor amount of sleep can be responsible for creating a cycle of stress and tiredness, with a lack of sleep affecting your stress levels and vice versa.

Tips for Improvement

Below, I take a look at how to review your sleep routine and environment. If you feel like you are suffering more severe symptoms of lack of sleep and experiencing periods of insomnia, please seek the advice of a medical professional who will be able to give you tailored advice and support.

A mug on a bedside table with a bed in background

Establish an Evening Routine

Sometimes the simplest things can go a long way, and creating an evening routine which you can stick to can help to regulate your sleep and improve your body clock.

An evening routine is there so you can unwind at night and prepare your body and mind for sleep. This means that you need to avoid any strenuous exercise late in the evening and choose activities which will help to ease your mind.

For example, you might find the below comforting:

  • Reading a book.
  • Writing in your journal.
  • Listening to a podcast.
  • Drinking a hot drink.
  • Having a bath.
  • Evening yoga.
  • Meditating.

Whatever makes you feel more relaxed, do it and schedule it into your evening at exact times. The more often you do this, the more your body will get used to it, and it will become habitual.

Try to Keep on Top of Your Stress Levels

There is nothing worse than tossing and turning at night, worrying about the next day. Sometimes, there are certain life events where this feeling cannot be helped. However, it shouldn’t be a regular occurrence.

Organise Your Morning the Night Before

There are plenty of small things you can incorporate into your evenings to help keep on top of your stress levels, including preparing for the next day in advance. Things such as packing your bag, choosing an outfit, knowing where your keys are and prepping lunch can all be completed the evening before, which will reduce any unnecessary pressure in the morning.

Soothe Your Mind

Use techniques such as meditation and yoga to help calm any racing thoughts or worries. You can do specific yoga for sleeping which will help to relax your body and mind as well as invest in meditation apps, such as Calm and Headspace, which offer guided meditations for sleep.

You can also take CBD oil for sleep which helps to reduce feelings of anxiety, meaning your mind is more prepared to rest at night. It is definitely not a miracle cure, and shouldn’t be treated as such, but it can help to reduce levels of stress for some.

A laptop on a wooden table

Turn off Your Screens

Many people blame poor sleep on to their evening interactions with technology. This applies to laptops, phones, tablets and TVs.

Not only can looking at emails and messages cause feelings of stress, but the blue light which they emit also affects your body clock, also known as your circadian rhythm. Instead of sending us to sleep, the light keeps us feeling awake and alert.

It is good practice to turn them off, or at least put them on a nighttime setting which reduces any blue light, to help your body prepare for sleep.

You may want to factor this into your sleep routine too. For example, stop using your phone at 8 pm. Prepare for the next day and then read a book with a hot drink at 9 pm ready to sleep at 10 pm.

A bed with a white duvet and a bedside table with a plant

Create a Good Sleep Space

Ensuring you have a comfy sleeping space is essential when trying to improve your sleep. There is much to consider to ensure your bedroom is a healthy place to sleep. You may want to adopt the following points:

  • Keep the bed for sleep and sex only. Anything else can interrupt how quickly you fall asleep as your brain starts to associate the bed with other things that are not sleep-related.
  • Ensure your room is the correct temperature and open windows or invest in warm blankets if not.
  • Invest in earplugs, blackout curtains or eye masks if the surrounding environment is too loud or bright at night.
  • Make sure your mattress, pillows and duvets are comfortable.
  • Hopefully, these tips will help to ensure you sleep better and deeper! Remember to seek medical support if you feel like the changes you make for the better are not working.

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