Top tips for sleep
Following on from our Instagram post on the 6 Top Tips for the Perfect Night's Sleep, this blog gives more detail on the science behind them.
Our bodies love routine. They function in something known as a circadian rhythm. This is the mental, physical and behavioural changes that our bodies experience on a daily cycle in response to light and dark. If we break a routine by going to bed later or waking up earlier than our bodies are used to, we can suffer from something known as sleep deficit. Our bodies will be lacking the amount of sleep required to function normally, which will lead to a feeling of tiredness.
For example, if your weekday routine is to go to bed at 10 pm and wake up at 7 am, while at the weekend you go to bed at the slightly later time of 11:30 but still wake at 7 am, your body will experience sleep deficit of an hour and a half. As you enter a new working week without the required amount of sleep, your body and mind will be unable to function at their best.
2. and 3. Darkness and Screen Time.
These two go hand in hand. We naturally start to feel tired and sleepy as we go into the evening and the daylight starts to fade. At this time our bodies start to produce a sleep hormone known as melatonin. If we artificially stimulate light late into the evening – from our phones, TVs or tablets – our bodies are tricked into thinking it is daylight and therefore stop the production of melatonin.
As a society everyone uses technology and many of us are guilty of sitting scrolling through Instagram until the late evening, but this can delay the onset of sleep by 90 minutes in some people. Try to break this habit and read a book in the hours before bed.
If your bedroom is light due to artificial light such as streetlights or the light emitted from your TV or other electrical equipment, take steps to reduce these. Buy blackout curtains and turn off TVs at the socket if you can to create a truly dark room.
Avoid the consumption of caffeine close to bedtime as it has a stimulating effect on the body. Having a coffee earlier in the day may also influence sleep quality and quantity later in the evening. An easy rule to remember is to avoid highly caffeinated drinks after 14:00. Decaffeinated coffee and tea are a great alternative to fully caffeinated versions.
If you feel like having something warm to drink before bed, try a cup of warm milk or hot cocoa. Milk contains both tryptophan – a protein associated with inducing sleep – and can help trigger the production of the sleep hormone melatonin.
Keep your room cool – 18 degrees to be exact. The body’s core temperature is affected by the circadian rhythm. Core temperature is lower at night and then gradually increases through our waking hours.
Having a 10 minute shower below 40 degrees has been shown in research to enhance the onset of sleep latency in athletes. Onset of sleep latency is the time it takes from getting into bed to falling asleep.
6. Can’t sleep? Get out of bed.
This may sound counter intuitive but if you are struggling to sleep get out of bed, go to another area of your house, and read a book until you feel sleepy.
Whatever you do, DO NOT pick up your phone and start looking at articles, watching videos or checking social media! This will delay the production of melatonin further and hinder your ability to sleep.
It is important that your brain only associates your bed with sleep. Refrain from working on your bed if you are working from home; find another area of your house to do this in.