What did you do with that extra hour in bed you got at the weekend there when the clocks turned back?
If you used it to get in extra zzzzzz’s then good for you – you’ll be all the healthier for it.
If instead, you lay there checking out FB and Twitter on your phone because you’d been wide awake for ages anyway, then it might be an idea to read on. Sleep is so crucial in order for our bodies and minds to recharge, yet most of us don’t get near enough of it. In fact, a recent survey by health insurers Viva, showed that young Brits were the worst sleepers in the world, getting less than the recommended minimum of seven hours a night.
One way to ensure you get a good night’s sleep is to prepare properly for going to bed. And here’s how:
- Raise your body temperature. Do this by having a hot bath prior around two hours before you go to bed. It works because your body cooling down again will make you feel relaxed and sleepy.
- Add relaxing scents to bath water. Before popping in to that bath add the following: two cups of Epsom salts, half a cup of raw apple cider vinegar, a quarter a cup of baking soda and a few dashes of lavender oil. Light a candle for added atmosphere.
- Prep for the next day. Setting out what you’re going to wear tomorrow and making sure you’ve everything you need in your bag/briefcase/gym holdall means you’ll be able to relax better in bed.
- Make a ‘worry list.’ A highly effective way to stop stressing about stuff in bed is to write down all your concerns on a piece of paper around 30 minutes before retiring. Tell yourself now you’ve listed them you’ll switch off and deal with them tomorrow – since there’s nothing you can do about them right now anyway.
- Ban electronics from the bedroom. That blue light your phone and tablet gives off is stimulating and plays havoc with your melatonin levels (the hormone that helps you sleep). Expose melatonin to too much light and it won’t do its job.
- Express gratitude. This is a lovely routine to follow before you go to sleep every night. All my clients love it. Simply write down a minimum of three things which happened that day that you are grateful for (whether personal or work-related). Learning to appreciate the good in our lives will make dealing with the difficulties much easier.
- Finish off chores just before bed. Doing laundry, working out bills, finishing off work you’ve brought home and catching up on your weekend box sets – it’s all either too much activity or, in the case of Netflix – stimulation. Instead, read a book, chat with your partner or do some light stretching exercise.
- Exercise three hours beforehand. Exercise is great for making us feel tired and sleepy, but not if it’s done too soon before bed. Then it has the opposite effect of making us feel energised and wide awake.
- Drink coffee after noon. Excessive amounts of tea late afternoon/evening won’t help either, thanks to all that caffeine. It’ll raise your heartbeat and make your brain feel lively. Sip herbal teas or water instead.
- Have a spicy snack just before bed. This will stimulate your digestive system, making it more difficult for you to drop off. A big meal has the same effect – even if it’s packed with carbs.
If you’re in the habit of indulging in any of the four points in our Don’t list then see if you can eliminate them one by one while adopting some of the Do list at the same time. In time you’ll love us for it.
About the author:
Dominica Roszko is a nutrition and well-being specialist, and the founder of vegerasta.com – a site dedicated to healthy living.