Being able to get a good night’s sleep is essential for your health and well-being. You will wake up feeling rested, refreshed and ready for the day.
However, for many people, sleep can be elusive. In fact, 35% of people are occasionally affected by insomnia and 10% of people suffer from chronic insomnia.
Insomnia can have a huge impact on your physical and mental health. Not getting a good night’s sleep will leave you unable to concentrate, irritable and forgetful. But it can also have physical effects and can slow down the healing process for your blood vessels.
Does this sound familiar?
Well, if you’re having trouble sleeping, don’t despair!
There are plenty of things you can do to improve your sleep and get over your insomnia. Read our guide to top bedtime habits for a good night’s sleep to find out more.
Stick to a Routine
If you’re battling insomnia, then one of the first things you should think about is your bedtime routine.
If you can, you should stick to the same bedtime and waking time. This will help regulate your body clock and your natural circadian rhythms.
It’s a good idea to use an alarm to help you stick to a routine. It may feel counter-intuitive to wake yourself up in the morning if you are soundly sleeping, but if you sleep in too late, you may have trouble getting to sleep the following night.
After a few weeks, you won’t need an alarm. Your body will come to expect sleep at certain times, and you will find it easier to wake up in the mornings feeling more refreshed.
Get Your Bedroom Right
If the conditions in your bedroom are not conducive to sleep, you will be fighting a losing battle against insomnia.
Your bedroom is one of the most familiar places in the world to you. It’s amazing how you stop noticing what your bedroom is like, and just accept it. But if you are struggling to get a good night’s sleep, ask yourself some questions about the room in which you sleep.
First things first, how comfortable is your bed? Does it creak and move about? or is it nice and solid and comfortable?
Do you sometimes wake up feeling stiff and uncomfortable? Then it could be time to buy a new mattress.
Also, consider the temperature of your bedroom. The ideal temperature for sleeping is between 60º and 67º, and if your room is too cold or too warm, it will disturb your sleep.
Then think about how much light is in your bedroom. When you’re trying to get to sleep, any light is too much. Make sure your curtains or blinds fit the windows properly. If they still let in too much light, you could consider installing blackout blinds.
Finally, how noisy is your bedroom? Can you hear noise from the street outside, or from neighboring houses or apartments?
Some people find some background noise can help them sleep. However, if noise wakes you up or interferes with your night’s sleep, then you could consider soundproofing walls and windows.
Ditch the Screens
Any artificial light in your room at bedtime will make it harder for you to sleep. But obviously, you still need to see! So any lamps in your room should shed a soft light and not be too bright.
However, electronic devices such as smartphones, tablets, and laptops all use LED lighting which is much harsher and brighter than natural light. Electronic screens also emit blue light, and blue light is very bad for sleep.
Research has shown that blue light prevents the body from making melatonin, which is the chemical that you need in order to sleep.
While it is tempting to catch up on social media or watch videos online when you’re in bed, it’s actually a really bad idea. So, if you’re suffering from insomnia, introduce a rule of no screens in the bedroom, and it should help you get a good night’s sleep.
Exercise Is Your Friend
Taking regular exercise is good for all aspects of your health. It also helps you sleep better.
Taking exercise during the day will help you feel calmer and more rested in the evening. A tired body will also help you switch off mentally, and get some proper rest.
Exercising regularly is also very good for your breathing and keeping your weight down. Excess weight can cause some sleep issues, especially snoring.
However, it is important that you don’t exercise too late in the day. If you’ve ever been running then you’ll know that it can give you a buzz, or a “runner’s high”. This is because exercising is a stimulant which makes your body produce endorphins and adrenaline, which do not help you sleep.
There’s a reason why we drink coffee in the morning. It picks us up and makes us feel more awake, all because it contains the stimulant caffeine. So drinking coffee in the evening will also stimulate our brain and make it much harder to go to sleep.
Many sleep experts suggest not drinking coffee after lunchtime, and if you are having severe insomnia, to give it up completely.
It’s also worth remembering that caffeine is present in lots of other food and drink products aside from coffee. Here are some products that also contain caffeine:
- Soda (including cola and sports drinks)
- Ice cream
- Painkillers and cold remedies
Try to avoid these products in the evenings, and always check the labels of any supplements you take in case they contain caffeine.
No Pets in The Bedroom
We love our cats and dogs and see them as the family. Many people even let their pets sleep in the bedroom, or on the bed with them. Yet most people who let their cat or dog sleep on the bed, say that the pet disturbs their sleep.
It may feel mean to shut your pet out of the bedroom, but they will quickly adjust. You can get them their own bed which they will soon love. But the main thing is that you don’t have your sleep interrupted by their movements.
If you are suffering from insomnia or disturbed sleep, you probably feel tired during the day. However, if you take daytime naps, it could seriously inhibit your ability to sleep later on.
If you are feeling sleepy during the day, the best advice is to fight it. Try going for a walk, which will also help you feel tired later on.
Don’t Eat Too Late
If you have a busy schedule it can be hard to eat at regular times. If you work long hours or have a hectic family life, sometimes you just squeeze meals in when you can. But if there’s one rule you should stick to when it comes to food, it’s to not eat too late in the evening.
Eating less two hours before going to bed can disrupt your sleep. This is because eating stimulates your body into digesting your meal, and it will not produce as much melatonin.
Lying down straight after eating can also cause heartburn, which will definitely keep you awake So try and eat a bit earlier to make sure you have digested your food before hitting the sack.
No More Nightcaps
Many people believe that an alcoholic nightcap before bed will help them get to sleep. But this is a myth.
Alcohol increases the risk of sleep apnea and snoring, which can be disruptive to your sleep. It can also act as a diuretic, which means you are far more likely to need to get up in the night to take a pee.
While alcohol does make some people fall asleep more quickly, it actually reduces the amount of Rapid Eye Movement (REM) that you get during the night. This is the sleep that leaves you feeling refreshed in the morning. So while a drunk sleep may feel like a deep sleep, it could make you feel even more groggy in the morning.
Create a Relaxing Bedtime Routine
As well as avoiding stimulation at bedtime, it’s important that you try and relax.
Create a relaxing bedtime routine that you can follow each night to help you switch off mentally and physically.
Taking a relaxing bath will leave you feeling warm and content. So why not make it even more relaxing by adding some aromatherapy oils and light some candles.
You can also try meditating, or some breathing techniques to clear your mind ready for sleep.
Stop Snoring for a Good Night’s Sleep
So those are some top bedtime habits for a good night’s sleep.
Make sure your bedroom is right for sleeping. Don’t over stimulate with food, caffeine or exercise before bed. Keep screens out of the bedroom, and just try and relax.
Of course, snoring can also be a problem in the bedroom. More so for the partner of the snorer than the person doing the snoring themselves. So if this sounds familiar to you, why not check out our resources on how to stop snoring.