Getting a good night’s sleep may seem like an impossible goal when you’re wide awake at 3 a.m., but you have much more control over the quality of your sleep than you probably realize.
Unhealthy daytime habits and lifestyle choices can leave you tossing and turning at night and adversely affect your mood, brain and heart health, immune system, creativity, vitality, and weight.
Many factors play a part in how much sleep we get, but by experimenting with the following tips, you can enjoy better sleep at night, boost your health, and improve how you think and feel during the day.
Your mental health
Approximately one in four adults will experience mental health problems each year with anxiety being the most common issue.
If you’ve struggled with anxiety or depression, you may have noticed the impact it can have on your sleep – with many of us getting less than six hours per night.
Vice versa, chronic sleep loss can lead to anxiety and depression – so getting to the bottom of the problem should be a top priority.
If you often find yourself overthinking before bed or worrying about tomorrow, try writing down your feelings or making a to-do list. This can help put your mind at rest, making it easier to switch off and drift off.
Support and help are available to people suffering from mental health-related problems – and often, speaking to someone is the first step to recovery.
Your sleep environment
Your bedroom plays a big part in your sleep routine and it should be a relaxing environment – think dark, quiet and cool. A dark bedroom helps us release the melatonin hormone that helps the timing of our sleep – and an ideal temperature for your room is between 18 – 21 degrees.
As tempting as it may be to scroll social media on your smartphone or watch TV in bed, your bedroom should be a tech-free zone and you should avoid blue light technology for at least two hours before bed.
Finally, we all wake up with neck or back pain from time to time but if it’s becoming a regular occurrence, your mattress could be to blame and it could be time to invest in a new one.
What we put in our bodies
Along with a balanced diet and good exercise, quality sleep is the foundation of your health. Despite this, many of us still don’t realise the effects certain foods and drinks can have on our sleep.
Take caffeine as an example – it may give you a quick boost but it blocks a sleep-inducing chemical in the brain called adenosine.
While there are a number of foods and drinks to avoid before bed, there are some that can enhance your quality of sleep.
Try swapping your bedtime brew for a herbal tea like chamomile which contains apigenin, an antioxidant that binds to certain receptors in your brain and is said to promote ‘sleepiness’.
If you’re still unsure what’s causing your sleep problems, try keeping a sleep diary. This will help you track daily activities and other lifestyle habits that may be affecting your sleep. It can also help your GP diagnose more serious sleep problems or underlying conditions.