According to the Better Sleep Council, most women need between six to nine hours of sleep a night, but following the phenomenon of ‘coronasomnia’ during 2020 and 2021’s lockdowns, research showed the number of women experiencing insomnia has risen from one in six, to one in four.
Sleep is integral to your health and well-being so we’re always on the hunt for how to improve sleep. 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 life expectancy too.
Following the recent clock change, you may struggle with adjusting sleep patterns to accommodate and could feel the effect for a few days, or even weeks, afterward. We asked the experts to share their top tips to help you easily and sleep better all year round…
How to improve sleep with 9 simple sleeping tips
Seek A Little Sunshine
Whatever time of year or weather, 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 of 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.
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.
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 four to six 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 the 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!)
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 that 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, and 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…
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