How to sleep better. It’s one of life’s biggest challenges in our manic, modern world. With our busy schedules juggling work, play, clients, friends and family, sometimes it’s hard to switch our brains off when it comes to catching some zzz’s.
So how do we do it? Well, thankfully there are many tips and techniques out there to help you switch off and head to the Land of Nod. From skipping that late afternoon coffee to opting for comfy and breathable sleepwear, here’s how to sleep better in 11 simple steps.
1. Don’t have caffeine late in the day
While caffeine has many benefits, such as improving focus and performance, it can also stimulate your nervous system and may prevent your body from being able to naturally relax at night. This is because caffeine can remain in your blood for up to eight hours, meaning drinking large amounts of it beyond 3-4 pm is not ideal. Sorry, coffee lovers! Skip that afternoon flat white and reach for a dandelion tea instead.
2. Get more bright light in the day
Our bodies have a natural time-keeping clock called a circadian rhythm. This impacts our brains, bodies and hormones, helping us stay awake during the day and get to sleep at night. Natural sunlight or bright light during the day ensures our circadian rhythm is working properly, meaning you’ll have better energy during the day and nod off easier at night. Another great tip for keeping your circadian rhythm is check is to aim to wake up and fall asleep at the same time every day.
3. Don’t drink alcohol before bed
There’s an age-old myth that drinking alcohol helps you sleep. Many of us know how after drinking a glass of wine or two we feel tired and perhaps go off to sleep quickly, but the quality of our sleep suffers. This is because alcohol alters nighttime melatonin production, which is essential in keeping your body’s circadian rhythm in check. If you’re going to drink before bed, ensure to flush it out your system as best you can with water.
4. Don’t eat too late
Eating too late – in particular too big a meal – can sometimes disrupt your sleeping patterns. Your digestive system is slower at night because, generally speaking, your metabolism drops when you’re sleeping. Many nutritionists suggest your last large meal being at least three hours before bedtime and sticking to smaller, more nutritious-dense meals or snacks before bed. In other words, no more skipping meals throughout the day and making up for it with a late-night feast!
5. Up your melatonin intake
Melatonin is a fundamental sleep hormone that lets your brain know when it’s time to sleep. And, while melatonin supplements are very popular for people who struggle with sleeping, you’ll also find naturally-occurring melatonin in a variety of foods. These include cherries, walnuts, rolled oats, asparagus, peanuts, olives, grapes, barley, mustard seed and pomegranates. Good enough to sleep!
6. Consider your sleeping environment
Those who have trouble sleeping might want to think about their bedroom environment. From blocking out natural light to reducing outside noise, there are so many ways we can adjust our sleeping environments to cure our sleep problems. It’s also a good idea to keep the TV in the living room, so your bedroom can be reserved strictly for sleeping. Well, almost strictly...
7. Consider the temperature of your bedroom
It’s also important to take the temperature of your bedroom into account. Here in Australia, most of us know what it’s like to try and get to sleep during a hot summer night. One study even found that the temperature of our bedrooms affects the quality of our sleep more than noise. If you’re fortunate enough to have air-conditioning, setting this on a timer to help you get to sleep can help in the warmer months, although fans are the more eco-friendly (and affordable) option.
8. Wear comfy lounge and sleepwear
Seeing as the temperature of our sleeping environment is so important, it’s also key to consider what we’re wearing to bed. Comfy, breathable and thermoregulating loungewear and sleepwear is ideal for allowing your skin to breathe as you unwind and get into bed. Boody Lounge is a capsule collection of sustainable downtime wear that will see you through your nights with ease.
9. Take a bath or shower before bed
A great way to prepare for a great night’s sleep is by jumping in the bath or shower and washing away the day. We all know how relaxing a bath or shower can be, and the feeling of getting into bed clean also tends to help us drift off. Studies reveal that a bath or shower before bed can help improve the overall sleep quality and help people – particularly the elderly – fall asleep quicker.
10. Read a book
Always a great habit to factor into your before-sleep schedule, getting your nose stuck into a good book is a great way to escape the worries of your day and relax the mind before drifting off. Short on time? Even if you can squeeze in 20 minutes of reading you’re likely to notice yourself feeling naturally sleepy. And no, watching TV doesn’t have the same impact on improving your sleep hygiene.
11. Stop looking at screens at least an hour before bed
Let’s face it, we’re all addicted to screens. Whether it’s computers in the day or our phones and televisions at night, most of us would admit to getting a tad too much blue light. A great way to improve your sleep-wake-cycle and enhance healthy sleep is by stopping looking at any screens at least an hour before bed. The cut-down on the usage of social media can also be beneficial for your mental health.
For more advice on combating sleep disorders, such as practising yoga and meditation, check out the National Sleep Foundation.