5 Tips for Better Sleep

Posted on November 9, 2021

5 Tips for Better Sleep

Sleep is one of the most important functions that the body carries out daily, responsible for repairing muscle tissue, reorganising nerve cells, restoring energy, lowering metabolism, and releasing hormones. When something disrupts this process, it is no wonder that there is a noticeable difference in our mood, behaviour, energy levels and physical appearance. At times feeling more irritable and unable to concentrate and if prolonged, this can develop into more serious issues. (To read more about how a lack of sleep impacts your health then click here).

Sometimes outside factors like stress, noise, chronic pain, illness, and jet lag can make getting a good night’s sleep seem like it’s out of our control. Now that our lives are getting busier, sleep can be pushed to the back of your mind in favour of work or social commitments and we lose track of our routine. Thankfully, there are some things that you can do to help regain control of your 40 winks. Here’s our top 5 tips for better sleep.

1. Stick To A Routine
Usually, our circadian rhythm would be dictated by the sun: when it is bright outside our body releases hormones that wake us up and when it gets dark it releases hormones that make us sleepy. This is the way we have been keeping track of our sleep/wake cycle for years, but with modern technological advancements, demanding work schedules and (over the last two years) lockdown, days getting shorter and nights getting longer, it isn’t possible for us to rely on this system.

However, we still may benefit from some kind of routine. By setting a time to wake up and go to sleep (and sticking to it) our body gets used to releasing hormones at the right time and you should find it easier to doze off when you’re supposed to. Try not to deviate from these times during the weekend, if possible. Also try to avoid having naps or sleeping in as this could disrupt the routine that you’ve worked to build!

2. Get A Change of Scenery
If you find yourself spending hours sat in your bed awake, trying to get to sleep, you might be doing more harm than good. It is very easy for us to build up associations with spaces and even sounds (cough, Pavlov’s dog) and sitting awake in bed can make us associate this space with restlessness- making it harder to fall asleep. This is also why it is recommended that you don’t work or watch TV in your bed.

If you are feeling restless, take yourself to a dark, quiet space and find a relaxing activity like reading a book or listening to calming music until you feel that you are ready to sleep and then get back into bed. After some time, you can break the association that you created, and it should be easier to fall asleep.

3. Avoid Screens
As mentioned earlier, our circadian rhythm is usually controlled by light, something that was developed when we were living outside and had no electricity but (clearly) things have changed since then. We have screens and lights that mean we can stay awake longer and don’t have to rely on sunlight anymore. It is no surprise, therefore, that studies have shown blue light from screens disturbs the body’s secretion of melatonin- the hormone responsible for making us feel tired- and can therefore make it harder for us to fall asleep.

If you avoid screens at least an hour before bed you will find that it is easier to get to sleep and will do your eyes some good. It can also be helpful to dim your lights too to simulate sunset.

4. Watch What You’re Drinking
We all know what’s coming next… Caffeine has one of the biggest impacts on our sleep, which is no surprise since it is a stimulant by nature. Not only that, it also impacts the quality of our sleep. So even if you manage to fall asleep after having your evening cup of tea or coffee, you won’t sleep as deeply as you usually would. It is in the deeper stages of sleep that most of the restorative processes take place.

So you can’t have coffee, what about a relaxing glass of wine? Bad news, although alcohol is a sedative, it has a negative impact on the quality of sleep. Drinking alcohol before bed makes you more likely to wake up during the night since it prevents you from going into the deeper stages of sleep- which also means you are less likely to dream.

5. Give Yourself Time to Wind Down
I’m exercising a bit of creative freedom here and this is less of a tip and more a combination of all our tips so-far. Essentially it has all been about setting the scene for you to fall asleep, make sure that your environment is comfortable: there isn’t too much light, the temperature is just right and you’re bed is comfortable. It’s a bit of a goldilocks situation, but once you know what works for you then you can stick to it.

Give yourself time to wind down from the stresses of the day by doing your skincare or having a relaxing herbal tea and reading a book. Helping you to lower your heart rate and prepare yourself to relax. It may seem silly to have to prepare yourself to relax but it can be something that we just take for granted, so it doesn’t hurt to take a little more time for you and which would also help make it part of your night-time routine.