By Aisling Killoran, The Wellness Crew
You need to sleep well to keep well. According to the World Health Organisation you should aim for an average of 8 hours 36 mins every night.
Do you have trouble achieving this? Maybe you find it hard to fall asleep, or toss and turn in the middle of the night? Perhaps you awaken too early, or find yourself not feeling refreshed in the morning?
This quick guide will help you get a better night’s sleep. You’ll get 17 sleep health tips you can start implementing right away. So what are we waiting for? Let’s get the ZZZs rolling!
17 Sleep Health Tips
Simply improving your daytime habits and creating a better sleep hygiene environment can set the stage for good sleep!
What to do during the day to improve your sleep health?
1. Avoid caffeine, alcohol and spicy foods 4-6 hours before bedtime. David Asprey – coffee inventor says, “2 cups of coffee should be the max you consume per day and preferably before 12 noon, as 25% is still in your system by midnight” Swap to decaf in the afternoon or try out some caffeine free herbal teas.
2. Drink hot milk or a warm cup of chamomile tea 30 minutes before bed. Chamomile is widely regarded as a mild tranquilizer and sleep-inducer.
3. Don’t eat a large meal within two hours of bedtime. Try to make dinnertime earlier in the evening, and avoid heavy, rich foods as bedtime snacks. It’s best to have your main meal at lunch! You can learn more about How to Eat Well to Sleep Well here.
4. Exercise at least 3 times a week for a minimum of 30 minutes.
5. Reduce Stress: The most common cause of sleeplessness is stress. It’s a vicious cycle; if you don’t get enough sleep you become stressed and when we’re stressed it will impact the quality of our sleep. Relaxation, Yoga and mindfulness are all great for treating the symptoms of stress, but nothing is better than tackling the cause of stress head-on. Figure out what is making you stressedbe it workplace relationships, workload, family life, financial stress, health concern or otherwise and take active measures to tackle it.
What to do at bedtime to improve your sleep health
6. Follow a consistent, calming bedtime routine every evening so your body knows you are preparing to sleep.
7. Begin to wind down any extraneous activity about 2 hours before you go to sleep.
8. To maximise sleep, your room should be quiet, dark, ventilated, and a comfortable temperature.
9. Go to bed when you feel sleepy. Don’t fall asleep on the couch.
10. Don’t bring your mobile phone to bed. Blue light contamination keeps us awake for longer and our phones are also a distraction, interrupting us as we fall asleep and during sleep. Try using an old-fashioned alarm clock. If you do need to bring your phone to bed turn on sleep mode at night and try out nighttime filters to reduce the effect of blue light contamination.
11. Eliminate as much light as possible to create the optimum environment for deep restorative sleep. Black-out blinds work a treat. Or, for a cheaper option, try an eye mask.
12. Ear plugs are another sleep aid. Some people are more sensitive to noise. If you find you get woken up by bumps and bangs in the night then try plugging your ears. And don’t forget to test out your alarm clock if doing so. You may need to get an under the pillow vibrating alarm clock.
13. Sleep tech. From sleep robots to the ‘Internet of Things’ sleep sensors to smart pillows and mattresses. there seems to be no limit to the amount of sleep technology and paraphernalia that is coming onto the market.
Of course. we can’t exclude seep Apps in the category of sleep technology. . You shouldn’t use your mobile phone in bed for regular daily activities like checking email and sending messages. However, mobile technology isn’t all bad and certainly, there are some superb sleep apps out there to help you fall asleep and monitor your sleep. Check out the innovative free Irish app SleepScore for monitoring and sleep interpretation. Or, why not try the Calm App to help you, to relax and sleep well with sleep stories for adults.
Sleep Techniques and Relaxation Hacks
14. Get into your favorite sleeping position. If you don’t fall asleep within 15-30 minutes, get up, go into another room, and read until sleepy.
15. Do not watch the clock! Use Step 16 instead….
16. Relaxation Technique. Breathe in and out slowly & deeply for a couple of minutes. Breathe in and tense your feet, relaxing them as you breathe out. Do the same with your calf muscles, then your thighs; abdomen and so on until you reach your head and every part of your body has been separately relaxed. Let your weight sink into the bed.
17. Insomnia Sleep hack. Get up on a regular basis for at least 3 weeks 20 – 30 minutes earlier than normal waking time. Clinical research has demonstrated that this is the most effective strategy for curing insomnia and will reset your sleep cycle.
Follow these sleep health tips and you’ll be well on your way to a good night’s sleep. If, however, your trouble sleeping persists it’s always advised to consult with your GP.