“A good laugh and a long sleep are the two best cures for anything”
Sleep. One of life’s essentials, or a luxury? It can depend on your current living situation, of course, but for most of us it is classed as more of a luxury than it should be. It’s estimated that around 40% of adults in the UK don’t get enough sleep, with many going on less than five to six hours per night. And what happens when you don’t get enough sleep?
Sleep deprivation is not just dangerous- leading to loss of memory, reduced reaction times and lack of concentration- but it’s bad for your health in other ways too. Lack of sleep can contribute towards weight gain, depression, anxiety and can have adverse effects on your nails, skin and hair too. So it makes sense to make sleep more of a priority, don’t you think? With that in mind, here are ten little ways to get better sleep tonight…
Set the scene
Just as parents do prior to a child’s nap or bedtime, you need to train your body and mind for when it is time to go to sleep. For this, you need a wind down routine so it’s a good idea to switch off the technology at least an hour before you intend to turn in. Keep lights and noise to a minimum and try something new rather than watching television. Read a book. Take a bath. Paint your nails. Whatever it takes to relax your body and switch your mind off from the stresses of the day.
Establish a routine
Sticking with the infant sleep theory, a good bedtime routine is not to be sniffed at for adults too. That’s not to say you can’t go out past your bedtime now and then, but it doesn’t hurt to have a loose schedule for sleep. Most adults benefit from going to bed at roughly the same time each night, and if you know you have to be up at a certain time you should bear in mind that most of us need around 8 hours a night.
Just a short walk each day can improve sleep quality, and help you to drop off a lot easier at night too. Regular exercise can also help to reduce the risk of sleep apnoea, and studies have found that those who exercise more rigorously benefit from a higher quality of sleep. So what are you waiting for?
Lots of us struggle to switch our brains off at night and find relaxing enough to fall asleep quite hard to come by. If this sounds familiar, you might want to try a spot of meditation to help you fall into a deeper and more relaxed sleep. Find a quiet spot and incorporate this into your daily routine- just ten minutes can be enough to aid better sleep.
A good diet is imperative for better sleep and it stands to reason that a heavy greasy meal is going to sit in your stomach like a lead weight, making it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. Add to that the fact that a bad diet can lead to heartburn and indigestion too and you have a sure fire recipe for a bad night’s sleep.
Caffeine is a stimulant and so it is going to keep you awake. If you do like a coffee, try to drink it before midday and certainly not right before you go to bed.
And while we’re at it, watch what you’re drinking at the bar too. It’s a common misconception that alcohol helps you to sleep, sp you can forget about the age old concept of a night-cap. A huge 7.9 million UK adults use alcohol to help them to sleep, unaware that a tipple at bedtime can actually reduce the quality of sleep you get as it interferes with your body’s natural sleep patterns. During a normal night’s sleep, the average adult will go through around six cycles of REM sleep, but after a drink this cut back to just two- this is why you often feel exhausted after a night out.
Eat more magnesium and zinc
Both magnesium and zinc have been found to greatly improve sleep, so its not a bad idea to stock up on foods that are rich in these. To get more zinc, go for foods that are rich in protein, such as peanuts, lamb, beef or cheese. Magnesium can be found in foods such as almonds, brazil nuts and pumpkin seeds.
The more that you stress about not being able to sleep, the more elusive the whole thing becomes. If you do find yourself lying awake and unable to drift off, try to stay relaxed. Instead of tossing and turning, read a book or take a warm bath. Even a warm milky drink can help to soothe the body and mind and send you off on the road towards sleep.
Be mindful of your environment
We all need a nice, calm and peaceful sleeping environment, so take a look around at your bedroom. Clutter is not conducive to rest, so clear it out. Look also at the temperature of the room- Sleep can be difficult to achieve if the room is too hot. Likewise, check whether or not the room is dark enough for you, and it’s worth investing in a decent mattress and pillows too.
A good night’s sleep can meant the difference between healthy, glowing skin, bouncy hair and a personality to match. So what are you waiting for? Make the changes you need to get better sleep tonight.