Poor sleep can lead to a whole lot of issues. From having an impact on your health, to making you very unproductive at work, the type of sleep you experience can affect every part of your life. You might think that the shut-eye you are getting is up to scratch, but really it might not be as fantastic as you think.
The world is filled with information for those who are in search of those practices that will improve their sleep. But often these tips are not given nearly as much insight as needed to improve sleep. You need to get back to basics if you are truly looking to change the quality of your sleep. And it starts with creating healthy sleep practices.
What are good sleep practices?
It might not be a term that you are familiar with, but good sleep practices are also known as sleep hygiene. They are the basic things that everyone should be doing to get the most out of their nightly shut-eye. While some of the sleep practices might seem pretty straightforward, it is often the simplest things that are overlooked when we are struggling to sleep. Instead of giving you a list of sleep tips, we are going to answer some questions relating to your sleep.
How should your evening be spent to boost your sleep?
The quality of your sleep can be affected early on in the evening so it is sometimes best to make sure that you start your sleep practices early in the night. You are not alone if you are one of those who spend many nights in traffic getting through the long commute. This means arriving home late at night. Because we spend so little time at home, nights are filled with doing those chores we never get time to do during the day. Or the evenings are spent running after children and getting them ready for bed.
But that hour spent before bed needs to be turned into a routine that helps you wind down and get ready for sleep. Getting to bed at the same time every night is important and when you get into that routine you will start feeling the differences. Your body has an internal clock that can be set into a rhythm helping you to fall asleep every night at the same time. When your body starts feeling tired at around the same time every night then you know that you have settled into a routine, and you should not fight your tiredness by staying up. This will destroy all of your hard work.
What should you avoid doing in the evening?
Drinking anything caffeinated is the first thing to avoid; no coffee caffeinated tea or soft drinks. If you are a smoker then that is another thing you need to avoid. But there are other lesser known things that can damage your sleep, such as interesting conversations, stimulating books and loud music. Anything that will awaken the mind and stimulate it can be detrimental to your sleep. The issue of alcohol depends on the person drinking it. For some, it helps them to sleep while for others it gets them to sleep but doesn’t help them to stay asleep.
Should you eat right before bed?
Meals are sort of a catch 22. If you go to bed feeling peckish you are going to struggle to fall asleep, but if you go to bed on a full stomach you are also going to feel hungry. The best time to eat a filling meal will be around 3 hours before going to bed. A snack before bedtime can also be helpful for keeping the hunger at bay.
What should you do when you get into bed?
The temperature of your bed and of your room needs to be warm, especially in the chilly winter months when temperatures drop during the night. Having warm hands and feet is also a necessity for sleep. The next thing that you need to be sure about is the comfort of your mattress and pillows. Resting your body on uncomfortable bedding will have a negative effect on your sleep.
What can you do during the day to ensure better sleep at night?
The quality of your sleep at night can be enhanced during the day if you know what needs to be done. Firstly it is important to stay away from your bed. Some of us have a habit of making our bedrooms the places where we do everything. Your bedroom should be reserved just for sleep. Your brain should link your bed with sleep only. You should also try to spend some time out in the sun. Many of us spend our days shut into an office building that has no sunlight and this can have a detrimental effect on your sleep later on at night. The best time to be getting some sun on your face is during the early parts of the day.
What should you be doing if you can’t get to sleep?
Even if you have done everything right, there might always be those nights when you lay on your bed staring up at the ceiling, frustrated that your body is not drifting off. Here is a tip that might help you: if you are not asleep within 20 – 30 minutes after getting into bed, you should get up and walk around. Leave your room and sit in the dark for a bit but whatever you do, don’t start doing anything physical like cleaning and don’t watch TV. When you are feeling sleepy you can then go back to bed. Remember to remind yourself that you are not an insomniac but that you are simply having a bad night.
How much sleep do you need?
The daily recommended nightly dose of sleep for adults is between 7 and 9 hours, although this can change from person to person. If you are not sleeping well every night then you should not spend more than 8 hours in bed although you might be very tempted to do so. Spending time dozing in bed is going to make your body think that it is okay to drift in and out of sleep during the night.
Sleep is a complicated but a necessary function. And to live a happier, healthier life it is best to make sure that your sleep is the priority that it needs to be.
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