National Bed Month kicks off on March 1st raising awareness of how important a good night’s sleep is for our health and wellbeing.
The initiative is organised by The Sleep Council, which offer practical support to anyone who wants to adopt better sleep habits. During lockdown, the number of Brits suffering from sleep loss has risen from one in six to one in four, as the pandemic continues to disrupt our everyday life.
If you would like to improve your sleeping routine, here are our top tips for a good night’s sleep:
Reduce exposure to blue light at bedtime
Blue light, which is emitted by electronic devices such as mobile phones and tablet PCs is not conducive to nodding off. This type of light can trick your brain into thinking it is still daytime, which will reduce the hormone melatonin, which helps you to fall into a deep sleep.
The best advice is to switch off your devices at least an hour before you go to bed. If you simply can’t resist a late-night peek at social media, then install an app such as Twilight, which can filter out the blue light that smartphones give off and apply a softer red filter instead.
Alternatively, invest in a pair of blue light blocking glasses that reflect blue light and minimises glare from digital screens.
Cut out the caffeine
Caffeine is a well-publicised stimulant, which gives us a boost of energy and enhances focus. Many of us enjoy a strong cup of coffee each morning to kick-start our day, but studies have shown that drinking caffeine-based drinks in the late afternoon or evening can significantly affect sleep quality.
If you enjoy a hot drink to wind down before bedtime, try decaffeinated coffee or a caffeine-free turmeric chai latte with honey. Decaffeinated green tea is another good choice as you’ll also reap additional health benefits since studies have shown that the drink can potentially lower blood pressure and keep your heart in good health.
Turn down the thermostat
The temperature of your bedroom can have a big impact on the quality of your sleep. According to the Sleep Foundation, the best bedroom temperature for sleep is 18.3 degrees. However, this varies between 15 and 22 degrees, with older adults and babies generally requiring a higher room temperature.
Scientists at Stanford University have found that our bodies set our ‘internal thermostat’ a few degrees lower at night-time, making a cooler room a better environment in which to nod off.
There is also the added bonus of making a saving on your energy bills too!
Clear your mind and relax…
This may be easier said than done —especially as many of us have increasingly busy lives as we juggle work, families and homeschooling!
However, developing a relaxing pre-sleep routine can improve sleep quality, so it’s worth experimenting to see which techniques work for you.
Apps, such as Pzizz can help to clear your mind and fall asleep quickly. The app has been designed using clinical research and is featured on the NHS website. It uses a mix of sound effects and music to calm your mind to help you sleep well and wake up feeling refreshed and relaxed.
Listening to relaxing music is another proven technique for clearing your mind at night-time. It’s reportedly thought that music with a rhythm of 60 beats per minutes helps you to fall asleep. Try listening to the Joni Mitchell song Blue Motel Room — it is said to be one of the most-sleep inducing tracks ever written.
Stay away from alcohol
We hate to be the bearers of bad tidings… but while it is widely thought that a glass or two of wine can relax our body, having a couple of drinks in the evening can actually play havoc with our sleep patterns.
Alcohol is known to alter melatonin production which can play a part in insomnia, snoring and broken sleep patterns, so stay away from the corkscrew if you want a cracking night’s sleep!
Snack wisely before bedtime
Choosing your supper snacks wisely can increase your chances of sleeping well. One of the best foods to eat in the evening is almonds. The nut is a great source of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin and also contains magnesium, which is also thought to improve sleep quality.
For a fruity bedtime snack, try a kiwi. They are low in calories and contain a boost of vitamin C – but importantly, studies have shown that consuming two kiwis an hour before going to bed can help you to fall asleep quicker.
Fish is another good choice for an evening meal. It’s high in Omega 3, which is a fatty acid that is reported to help regulate sleeping patterns.
Upgrade your mattress
If you’re still struggling to sleep, it may be time to think about purchasing a new mattress.
According to the Sleep Council, you should change your mattress every seven years – and it’s important to consider which mattress matches your sleeping habits. Side sleepers generally prefer a softer mattress that mould to the curve of the body, but if you sleep on your back or stomach then a firmer mattress might be better suited.
The good news is that you don’t need to break the bank to invest in a mattress that offers the right level of support. The Silentnight Pocket 1200 Mattress is currently on offer at £359.55 (reduced from £489.00) and has won the Which? Best Buy award and is filled with EcoComfort Fibre Technology for the ultimate in comfort.
Find out more
The Sleep Council website has more information about National Bed month – including a competition to win a super-cosy all-season duvet. So, indulge yourself throughout March with a lie-in, as the old adage ‘you snooze, you lose’ definitely does not apply!