When you’re struggling to drift off on a night, the first thing you’re told is you need to get your sleep hygiene right – but you don't always get told why.
Sleep hygiene is all about the practices and habits necessary to enjoy good quality sleep and feel refreshed in the morning.
It’s important to practice good sleep hygiene for your health and mental wellbeing. Sleep allows you to recover from the stresses and strains of the day by breaking down chemicals and toxins that make us feel drowsy. For more information about these chemicals and the role they play when you sleep, read our blog post here.
With this in mind, we have put together our top five tips to help you get a better night’s sleep:
1. Get into a regular routine
Physiological cues play a big part in enabling us to get to sleep and stay asleep, and that's something you can use to your advantage!
Align your body clock by setting a sleep schedule. Go to bed and get up at roughly the same time each day and your body and brain will start to recognise this.
By setting this routine it can help trigger the right signals about going to sleep at the right time. These routines that follow a daily cycle are called the ‘circadian rhythm'. When you are in this rhythm it allows you to feel alert and awake after a good night’s sleep.
2. Set the scene
With over 1.54 million people working from home (ONS), it can be tempting to take your work up to bed and work in the comfort of your bedsheets. Not only this but with technology rapidly taking over, it’s easy to get carried away scrolling through social media or binge-watching Netflix in bed all evening.
When it comes to good quality sleep, these are not great habits to have. You need to have the right mindset, understanding that your bedroom is a place to switch off. Don’t allow the bedroom to become the time or place to work and worry, make it a space to relax and wind down.
Natural light can help regulate our body clocks. Make sure you let the sunshine through the day and shut it out at night to improve the quality of sleep.
When you sleep your body temperature drops and therefore it’s important your bedroom is the right temperature (usually between 16-19 degrees Celsius) for a good quality sleep. This is also why people sleep better when they have had a hot bath. Taking a bath raises your body temperature ready for the drop that helps you drift off to sleep.
3. Avoid alcohol
Alcohol may make you fall asleep faster, but it will not make you sleep better. It holds you in a state of light sleep preventing restorative sleep that usually makes you feel refreshed the next day.Sometimes it’s tempting to have a nightcap before bed, thinking it will help you sink into sleep without the hours lying awake. Well, it’s probably time you reconsidered!
So, next time you go to pick up that glass of whisky, remember, it’s not just the alcohol that is leaving you with a fuzzy head in the morning, it’s the lack of deep sleep too!
4. Stay away from stimulants
It's definitely a bad idea to have more than three but it's also worth knowing that for some people the effects of caffeine can last up to 12 hours. Scientists think that caffeine and other stimulants (e.g. nicotine) inhibit the receptors in the brain for adenosine – that's the chemical that calms the nervous system down. If you stop the chemical from working, you’ll feel excitable and tense.
That's why caffeine can increase anxiety, contributing to struggles in getting to sleep.Enjoy a cup of coffee first thing in the morning? There are good arguments for making that your only cup of coffee for the day.
5. Make time for exercise
Exercise causes your body to release endorphins which do all sorts of things including, calming the nervous system and reducing levels of anxiety and depression - all great for helping you sleep.Exercise is great for encouraging sleep. It helps your body know that it's tired and needs rest, and it's super helpful for your brain.
Avoid exercising two hours before bedtime as it will make you feel awake and energised – something you don’t want when you’re trying to sleep!
It's useful to know how and why sleep hygiene can greatly impact your sleep. However, for many people, good sleep hygiene doesn't always bring on the better sleep, rest and restoration that they crave.
That's why we've developed a weighted blanket for sleep. It's the most effective non-medicinal sleep aid available and is also a great tool for managing anxiety and helping with better sleep – its life-changing!