According to the Better Sleep Council most women need between 6 to 9 hours of sleep a night, but with the newest phenomenon of ‘coronasomnia’, research showed that the number of women experiencing insomnia has risen from 1 in 6, to 1 in 4.

Sleep is integral to your health and wellbeing, it’s an essential function that allows your body and mind to recharge, leaving you refreshed and alert when you wake up. Regular poor sleep not only leaves you feeling groggy, moody, and low, but it also puts you at risk of serious medical conditions, including obesity, coronary heart disease and diabetes – and it shortens your life expectancy too.

Whilst you’re most probably looking forward to the start of British Summer Time (BST) you may struggle with adjusting sleep patterns to accommodate for the loss of an hour’s sleep and could feel the effect for a few days, or even weeks, afterwards. We asked the experts to share their top tips to help you spring forward easily and sleep better all year round…

Ease Into Spring

To minimise the impact of the switch to BST, make gradual adjustments. Go to bed (and if you have children, put them to bed) 15 minutes early, starting several days before the change. Make an extra effort to get a bit more kip the week before the time change (which is basically NOW!). With the change of weather, also consider your room temperature. To sleep well, your body needs to lose 1ºC of temperature. Carbon dioxide also disturbs sleep, so if you can, try to sleep with the window and bedroom door open all year round. The ideal room temperature should be between 16-18ºC.

Seek A Little Sunshine

Once the clocks spring forward, step outside and catch some rays. The sunlight will help set your body’s internal clock, which controls your sleep-wake cycle and boosts your vitamin D intake. Consider taking 10 mcg/day vitamin D as a supplement, to keep your bones and muscles healthy as it is so difficult to obtain this amount through diet alone and the temperamental English weather!

Take A Nap

It sounds like the most indulgent thing to do, however a short nap (20 minutes) in the afternoon (but not too close to bedtime) can be revitalising without ruining your night’s sleep. Obviously if you’re back working in an office or have pre-nursery age children this is simply not manageable, but if you’re fortunate enough to grab a few minutes of shut-eye during the day, do so, guilt-free. You’re investing in yourself!

Create A Schedule

Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. This helps your body regulate its sleep pattern and get the most out of the hours you sleep. According to sleep expert Christabel Majendie, “when it comes to sleep you cannot have a one-size-fits-all approach. It’s about creating a routine that fits you best, so you wake up feeling refreshed and ready to face the day no matter how many hours of sleep you’ve had.” Although it’s tempting to have a lie-in over the weekend, if you can bear to wake up at the same time as you do on weekdays, we promise your Monday mornings will be easier to manage.

Get Moving

Even moderate exercise, such as brisk walking, can help you sleep better. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise, three times a week or more, according to the National Sleep Foundation, morning is best. But if your lifestyle only allows for evening workouts, the type of exercise that you choose to do is crucial, as often you’ll feel revitalised post-workout rather than relaxed. The best exercise to encourage sleep is a moderate type, such as swimming or walking.

Avoid Stimulants

How many times have you gone on a big night out and had trouble sleeping? There’s a simple reason for that, alcohol interferes with sleep. Easier said than done but try and avoid alcohol for 4 to 6 hours before bedtime. Smokers should also avoid tobacco, another stimulant, too close to bedtime. Fun fact: Smokers take longer to fall asleep, and they wake up more frequently during the night. Obvious as it sounds, an after-dinner espresso is not going to do you any favours either. Also be aware that certain counter medications contain caffeine, so check the label.

Chill Before Bedtime

Worry boosts production of the stress hormone cortisol, which makes you more alert. If anxiety keeps you awake, keep a journal on your bedside table or a notepad so you can jot down tomorrow’s to-do list. Stress and overstimulation can make it hard to fall asleep too. It’s not just kids that should avoid screens before bedtime, but adults too (yes, even your Kindle!) As The Sleep Foundation explains, “the blue light that is transmitted from devices suppresses the body’s release of melatonin8, a hormone that makes us feel drowsy. Being exposed to blue light in the evening can trick our brain into thinking it’s still daytime, disrupting circadian rhythms and leaving us feeling alert instead of tired.”

It’s not just kids that should avoid screens before bedtime, but adults too (yes, even your Kindle!)

Sleep Alone

Research from the Better Sleep Council suggests that on average, one in three people report their bed partner has a negative impact on their sleep, while another UK survey showed couples tend to have bedroom squabbles around 167 times a year (the number one reason was blanket hogging, while snoring was a close second). If you have restless or snoring pets (or partners!), keep them out of your room, (not so easy with humans!) “Save your bedroom for sleep, sex, and relaxing”, says Dr Elie.

Be Nutrient Savvy

There are several essential nutrients which are known to help with sleep, in particular magnesium. Magnesium’s relaxing effect may be partly due to its ability to regulate the production of melatonin. Bananas, avocados, nuts, seeds all contain high levels of magnesium, so if it takes you a while to nod off at night, replace your evening munchies with a magnesium-fuelled snack instead of your chocolate biscuit.

And Don’t Forget Your Skin

At night, your skin switches from “protect” mode to “repair”, it’s the time it recovers from the day’s stresses. Melatonin and human growth hormone (HGH) production are boosted, which in turn accelerates skin regeneration and the production of antioxidants and collagen. Charlotte Vøhtz, founder of Green People confirms, “good sleepers have lower intrinsic skin ageing and their skin barrier recover 30% faster than poor sleepers. Poor sleepers also suffer from high levels of trans-epidermal water loss which can lead to dry skin. Preparing your skin for sleep is crucial to ensure it works hard at night to remove toxins and restore a healthy complexion.” If you’re not already using a hardworking night cream in your evening skincare routine, introduce one immediately. It will help your skin replenish to its absolute max!

Create a sleep cocoon with these slumber-inducing products that will make you look well- rested, even if your sleep tracker says differently…

The products on this page have been selected by our editorial team, however, The Handbook may make a small commission on some of the products purchased through affiliate links.


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