9 Natural EASY Ways to Get a Great Night’s Sleep
Everyone strives to get a good night’s sleep, and yet so many of us wake up the next day without feeling like we had slept at all.
The good news is that there are simple things that you can try and follow that will help to improve the quality of your sleep. A few simple changes to your day, or routine, can make a huge difference to your quality of sleep.
There are a number of short term and long term effects to your body when you do not get enough sleep, or a good quality of sleep and these will begin to really have a negative effect on your quality of life; initial, short-term problems include; a lack of alertness. This can happen if you miss as little as one and a half hours sleep a night; your memory will become impaired, this is because having too little sleep will affect your ability to both remember and process information; it can affect relationships as you can become mood, making you more likely to become argumentative; it will start to affect your quality of life even after a short period of time, as you are less likely to participate in normal activities or exercise like your normally would do; and finally it will increase your chances of having a car accident. Driving when you are overtired accounts for a huge number of car accidents, some which prove to be fatal, every year.
Long-term sleep loss can actually cause a number of more serious health problems; such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attacks, heart failure or strokes. This is not all though, as it can also cause obesity, depression and give you a much lower sex drive. On top of this, it can also affect your appearance in a negative way. It will age you by leading to premature wrinkles, and dark circles underneath the eyes. Finally, research has suggested that prolonged lack of sleep can lead to an increase of cortisol in your body, which is the stress hormone. Cortisol will break down collagen, which is the protein in the skin that helps to keep it smooth and youthful.
How much sleep should you be getting?
According to the National Sleep Foundation, everyone needs different amounts of sleep. Although this can vary from person to person – some people might require more than others, despite being the same age – there are recommended hours for infants, children’s, teens and adults.
Newborn babies, which is a baby between 0-3 months should be getting around 14-17 hours every day; infants aged between 4-11 months should be getting a recommended 12-15 hours; toddlers aged between 1-2 years old should be getting around 11-14 hours sleep every day; pre-school children aged between 3-5 years are recommended to get 10-13 hours of sleep; school children aged 6-13 should be getting 9-11 hours sleep each night; teenagers aged between 14-17 actually need more sleep than adults, and should be getting 8-10 hours every night; finally adults should be getting anywhere between 7- hours every night.
The reality is though that very few people are actually getting the recommended number of hours sleep a night.
Here are just a few things though that you can do to improve your quality of rest every night…
Set a routine
Try and make sure that you are going to sleep and getting up at the same time every day. This will help to establish a routine with your internal body clock and will improve your quality of sleep.
Try and set a bedtime at a time when you feel naturally tired. Going to bed too early will cause you to lay in bed awake, and will not give you the good quality of sleep that you need as you will just toss and turn. Once you have got established with your routine, and you start to get enough sleep, you should actually wake up naturally without an alarm.
If you find that you still need an alarm clock to wake up it is a sign that you still might not be getting enough sleep, which would suggest that you should be making your bedtime earlier.
Do not be tempted to sleep in
A lot of people; particularly if you work long hours during the week live for a long lie in at the weekend, but actually this could be one of the worst things for you to do.
This is because, if your weekday sleep pattern completely differs from your weekend sleep pattern, you will develop symptoms similar to jet lag, and this can make it hard to function effectively. Don’t stress too much though if you have gone out and had a late night though, as you can make up your lost sleep; however do this with a daytime nap rather than by sleeping in. This will ensure that you keep your sleep pattern the same; at the same time you can pay off some sleep debt.
Be sensible when it comes to taking naps
Like we have just said, naps can be a great way to pay off sleep debt, but only if you nap wisely. Napping for too long can actually have a negative effect, and might cause to have a poorer nights sleep.
Don’t be tempted to nap during the day if you have trouble falling asleep, or staying asleep at night, as this can make it worse.
If you do want a nap during the day, limit them to just 15-20 minutes in the early afternoon.
Don’t fall asleep after dinner
All too many of us have dinner, go and sit on the sofa, and doze off, happy and full, but this is one of the worst things that you can do.
If this sounds like something you do, try and find something that is slightly stimulating to prevent this from happening. Try washing up, calling a friend or loved one, or even as simple as getting your clothes ready for the following day.
Sleeping before your bedtime so late in the evening will only mean that you will wake up later, and you will more than likely have trouble getting back to sleep afterwards.
Leave all your devices alone 1-2 hours before you go to bed
This is a fairly well-known fact, but devices that give off a blue light will affect your quality of sleep. This is likely to include your phone, tablet, computer, or television screen. All too many of us are guilty of climbing into bed and immediately getting our phones out to check social media, without realising the damage that this could be doing to your sleep pattern and quality of sleep.
Although it is best to avoid all screens 1-2 hours before you go to bed, we realise that this is often very unrealistic, so instead, minimise the impact by looking at devices with a smaller screen, and with the brightness turned right down. Alternatively, you can actually get light altering software if you cannot avoid your devices.
Make sure you are sleeping in a dark room
Blackout curtains are an absolute lifesaver, particularly if you find yourself waking up during the night. If you do not have these, try sleeping in a sleep light to keep the room really dark. A dark room is more conducive to getting a good nights sleep.
Do not be tempted to turn lights on if you wake up during the night either – even if you have to get up to use the loo. If you feel like you need some light for safety, install a dim nightlight on the landing, or even use a small flashlight. This will make it far easier for you to get back to sleep when you return.
Expose yourself to as much natural sunlight during the day
What you do during the day, will ultimately dictate the quality of sleep that you get at night. Try and expose yourself to bright sunlight as soon as you get up. During nice mornings weather-wise, why not take your morning coffee outside to have in the sunshine. This will instantly make you feel more awake and ready to face the world.
The same can be said for your lunch break as well. If you can, go outside for as long as you can just to get as much exposure to natural daylight as you can.
If you can as well, try and let as much natural light enter your workspace as possible. Keep any curtains and blinds open during the day, and even move your desk to the window, if your boss does not mind you rearranging the furniture!
Exercise during the day
People who exercise regularly tend to sleep better at night than those who do not. Not only this, but it can also help to prevent symptoms of insomnia, and sleep apnoea.
You do not have to do a lot of exercise to see the benefits. Even just going for a ten-minute walk in the sunshine at lunchtime will improve your sleep quality. The sleep benefits will build up over time, so do not give up if you do not start to see results immediately.
However, be wary about exercising too close to bedtime, as this can actually interfere with your sleep and not improve it. Try and finish your exercise at least three hours before going to bed, or try a more relaxing form of exercise, such as yoga or gentle stretching.
Be careful about what you eat and drink
Don’t forget what you eat during the day can have an impact on how you will sleep at night. Caffeine and nicotine are both stimulants and can disrupt your sleep, even up to ten or twelve hours after drinking it.
Avoid big meals as well close to your bedtime. Keep your dinner time earlier on in the evening, so you are not going to bed straight after eating, as this will affect the quality of sleep that you get. Spicy food can also cause heartburn which can then keep you up and night and disrupt your sleep pattern.
Many people think a glass of wine before bed actually helps them to go to sleep, but in a reality, it will completely interfere with the quality of sleep that you are getting and you will end up feeling worse in the morning.
Finally, try and cut back on the number of sugary foods and refined carbs that you are eating during the day, such as white bread, white rice and pasta, as these can all keep you awake at night.