Top 5 ways to improve your sleep

The importance of sleep

We’ve all experienced the not so great knock on effects of a bad nights sleep. But did you know that almost all aspects of health, from long term physical disease to mental wellbeing, are impacted by sleep?

What counts as a good night sleep?

There are 3 stages of sleep:

1. Non-Rapid Eye Movement (non-REM) sleep: this is the first stage we enter, which is classed as ‘light sleep’ and can last for around 25 minutes.

2. Deep sleep: the next stage, is critical as this is when the body repairs itself, restores energy and releases hormones.

3. REM sleep: as our sleep cycles repeat (around 90-minute cycles) we enter REM sleep several times. The first stage lasts around 10 minutes, getting longer each time following this.

Generally, people require around 7-9 hours of sleep a night. Several factors can affect the quality of sleep we get, which usually reduces the amount of deep and REM sleep we experience. This can lead to us feeling exhausted.

Therefore, we’ve come up with our top tips to help improve our sleep quality.

Tip 1 – Avoid caffeine after lunch time

Did you know caffeine has a half-life (the time it takes for your body to remove half of the caffeine from your system) of six hours! So, say you have a cup around 3pm, it will still be in your system at around 9pm!

While some people think an evening cup may not affect them, a study found an evening dose of caffeine reduced deep sleep by 20%! So, while you may not be aware of it at the time, it can leave you feeling exhausted the next day.

If you enjoy an afternoon or evening tea or coffee, try swapping to decaff after lunch!

Tip 2 – Avoid screen time before bed

We have an internal body ‘clock’ that regulates our circadian rhythm; determining when we stay awake and when we sleep. As this isn’t 100% accurate, it requires signals from our external environment to adjust itself. The most important of these signals for sleep are daylight and darkness.

When we’re exposed to blue light (e.g. from smartphones, TVs or computers) in the evening it can trick our brain into thinking its light outside, thus impacting our circadian rhythm.

To help avoid this you can:

  • Avoid screens for at least 2 hours before sleep.
  • Reduce the brightness of lights throughout your house in the evening
  • Try blue-light blocking glasses

Tip 3 – Calm your racing mind

Going to bed with a never-ending list of things on your mind, can make it difficult to fall asleep. A recent study found that writing a to-do list for the next day before going to bed helped people fall to bed faster.

Try leaving a notebook and pen by your bed as a reminder and give it a go!

Tip 4 – Supplement with Vitamin D

Vitamin D, is an important nutrient for bone and immune health as well as increased cognition. As we absorb most of it from direct sunlight, in the UK it is recommended we supplement during the winter months.

However new research has suggested that being vitamin D deficient is linked with sleep disorders. Furthermore, another study found that vitamin D supplementation in individuals who suffered from sleep disorders helped to improve their sleep quality. Although more studies are required, the research so far in this area is promising.

Tip 5 – Regulate bedroom temperature

Our bodies core temperature decreases when we sleep and increases when we wake. If your sleep environment is too hot or too cold, it can affect your quality of sleep.

A study found that individuals who slept in cooler better ventilated rooms had better sleep (approx. 18 degrees Celsius in comparison to 22).

To help reduce your room temperature and increase ventilation throughout spring and summer try sleeping with your window open. When this isn’t practical or during in the cooler months, try sleeping with your bedroom door open.

Main takeaways for a good night’s sleep

Continuous quality sleep is important for both our physical as well as mental health. Whether you’re struggling with poor sleep or not, incorporating the above simple steps into your nighttime routine should help to improve sleep quality. Give it a go you might just be pleasantly surprised!

About The Author

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sign In


Reset Password

Please enter your username or email address, you will receive a link to create a new password via email.