How to Get a Better Night’s Sleep
Getting a good night’s sleep is just as important for you as regular exercise and a healthy diet. A lack of sleep can have some seriously negative effects on your health and wellbeing.
However, sometimes certain events happening in your life can interfere with your sleep patterns. So, we’ve come up with 5 ways to help you get a better night’s kip.
1. Cut down on your blue light exposure
Being exposed to light during the day is beneficial because it signals to your brain you need to be alert and awake. However, night-time light exposure will keep you awake and make it more difficult to switch off.
Our bodies work on a circadian rhythm, as your internal body clock. So,, if you’re exposed to light at night time your brain is tricked into thinking it is daytime and will reduce the levels of hormones like melatonin which help to relax you and prepare you for deep sleep. The worst culprit for this is blue light, the type emitted from your phone, computer, and TV screens.
However, there are things you can do to help limit your blue light exposure and get a good night’s sleep, such as:
- Wear blue light blocking glasses
- Download an app which blocks blue light on your smartphone
- Switch off all screens 1-2 hours before you’re going to bed
2. Reduce your caffeine intake
Many of us enjoy a caffeine fix when we first wake up in the form of a tea or a coffee but drinking too much and at the wrong time of day can be detrimental to your sleep behaviour.
Some research shows that in some individuals, drinking caffeine even 6 hours before going to bed can disrupt sleep. Because levels can stay high for up to 8 hours, it is recommended not to drink coffee after 3 pm, particularly if you are sensitive to caffeine.
Instead, switch for:
- decaffeinated coffee or tea
- warm milk
- hot cocoa
3. Adopt good sleep hygiene
Your bedroom environment also plays a vital part in your ability to sleep well. Many people find that noise and light can impair the quality of their sleep. So, to optimise your bedroom environment, you should ensure your bedroom is:
- Free of artificial and external light
It is also recommended that you find the temperature which most suits you, being too cool or too warm can disrupt your sleep. For example, most of us have experienced the difficulty of trying to get to sleep during the summer or in a hot location. If you’re too hot choose cool, cotton bedding, and light sleepwear. If you’re too cold, you may need some warmer bedding including a high-tog duvet.
4. Avoid eating late at night
A late-night snack may satisfy your cravings but it might just stop you from sleeping. That’s because it can interfere with the natural release of melatonin, the hormone which helps your body to relax. So, you should try to avoid your food intake before bed, especially large meals.
5. Avoid alcohol
Despite some people claiming that alcohol helps them get to sleep, it impairs your night-time melatonin production meaning you might not be able to get to sleep.
However, alcohol is a depressant and may initially have a sedative effect on your body, so it might help you get to sleep faster, but once the alcohol wears off you’re likely to wake up before you’ve had a full night’s rest. The disruption to our sleep caused by alcohol affects the REM (rapid eye movement) part of sleep which helps to boost our memory, concentration, and learning. So, alcohol consumption can impair your ability to focus on your work or daily activities the next day.
Sleep is important for your health. It reduces your risk of disease, helps you to stay focussed and improve your mental wellbeing. Therefore, it is essential to adopt some good behaviours to enhance your night’s sleep.
Drake, C et al. (2013). Caffeine Effects on Sleep Taken 0, 3, or 6 Hours Before Going to Bed. J Clin Sleep Med: 9(11), pp 1195-1200.
Figueiro, M, G et al. (2011). The Impact of Light From Computer Monitors on Melatonin Levels in College Students. Neuro Endocrinol Lett: 32(2), pp 158-163.
Van Cauter, E et al. (2007). Impact of Sleep and Sleep Loss on Neuroendocrine and Metabolic Function. Horm Res: 67 (Suppl 1), pp 2-9.