Arianna Huffington was onto something when she penned The Sleep Revolution, a memoir dedicated to addressing what she calls “society’s sleep deprivation crisis”. But it doesn’t have to be this way… Below, the best five ways to improve sleep quality and quantity, no matter how busy you are.
1/ Start a sleep diary
Most us require seven to nine hours sleep a night according to the National Sleep Foundation1. The trouble is, none of us really know exactly how much we’re getting.
To keep track, start a log of the time you go to sleep (i.e. what time you actually put your phone down and close your eyes), and the time you wake up, and document how you feel each day. This will help you map out just how many zzzz’s you’re actually getting – and how it affects your mood. Once you know exactly how a lack of sleep affects your life and productivity, you’ll be more motivated to get to bed on time.
2/ Stick to a routine
Experts recommend going to sleep at the same time every night, and limiting the difference on weeknights and weekends by no more than an hour.2 Having a consistent sleep schedule helps your body clock regulate itself, and will make it easier both to go to bed at night and get out of bed in the morning.
Make time to wind down before bed each night to help prepare the body for rest. Ignore the urge to check your email and don’t schedule intense exercise for late in the evening, as this stimulates the body. Instead, the Australian Sleep Health Foundation suggests relaxing activities like a warm bath or reading.3
3/ Create a cosy sleep sanctuary
Getting a great night’s sleep is all about creating an atmosphere that’s conducive to relaxation. Think beyond what you can see – like sumptuous bedlinen and tactile throws – to the invisible factors that can make a big difference. For instance, keep your bedroom’s air quality and temperature under control with a purifier. A good quality air purifier should monitor and respond to indoor air pollutants while you sleep. Choose one with a filter that can capture gases and fine particles in the air that you may otherwise breathe in all night long.
4/ Avoid caffeine at all costs
Steer clear of anything containing caffeine, alcohol and nicotine before, as they can all wreak havoc on both sleep quality and your ability to fall asleep in the first place (the same goes for big meals before bed). According to the Australian Sleep Health Foundation, caffeine should be avoided for at least four hours before you go to bed. Instead, choose anything containing tryptophan, which promotes sleepiness, for your late night indulgence.4 Dairy foods are rich in tryptophan (hence the time-old tradition of warm milk before bed), as are eggs and walnuts.
5/ Step away from the screen
Hands up who spends hours scrolling Instagram before turning out the lights? Unfortunately, recent research shows our addiction to our devices is seriously harming our sleep; according to the US National Sleep Foundation, our bodies’ natural evening rise in melatonin (the hormone that prepares us for sleep), is affected by just 1.5 hours of nightly screen time. The brightness of the screen makes us feel more alert, so dim the screen to reduce the effect and consider uploading f.lux to your laptop, which decreases the amount of blue light it emits.