When you’re busy, it’s easy to stay up late getting on with whatever needs doing, and when you do get to bed, you may feel tired yourself but your mind is working overtime. Before you know it, it’s 2 o’clock, 3 o’clock in the morning and you have just four hours before it’s time to get up for the next day. It’s draining, frustrating, and it’s something we all experience, unfortunately.
The Sleep Council suggests that nearly half of us get just 6 hours of sleep at night, or even less, and that four out of five people complain about inadequate rest. While these periods of broken sleep may come and go, the fact is that sleep deprivation can be extremely bad for our health.
Research has found that a lack of zzz’s can fuel unhealthy junk food habits and affect the body’s immune system, the same way in which stress does. Those who do not get enough rest could also face high blood pressure, risks of alzheimer’s disease, and the chances of having a stroke is increased by 4.5%. Sleep deprivation can be caused by a number of factors, such as diet, stress, your lifestyle, the age and quality of your bed, or even your bedroom.
There are ways to help improve your sleeping pattern, leaving your mind well rested and ready for the day ahead.
Stick to a pattern of sleeping hours: Going to bed and waking up at roughly the same time both during the week and the weekend can make a big difference to your sleep. While it may be tempting to have a lazy lie-in on a Sunday, this can throw your sleep pattern, leaving you feeling more awake when it comes to bed time, and extra tired on the Monday morning.
Make sure your bedroom is a relaxing environment: The ideal sleep environment is cool (but not too cold!), dark and quiet. A room full of clutter, with mobile phones lighting up during the night with notifications does not help.
Do something relaxing: Some people enjoy reading before bed time, while others find that a hot bath or shower relaxes your body. Yoga is a fantastic way to release tension and focus the mind, and listen to music that soothes, such as waves on a beach, rainforest sounds, or a storm. Music is available to buy, or you could download an app that will play sounds for a set amount of time (just make sure your phone is turned upside down and it is on silent mode!)
Deal with any worrying workloads: Should you be extra busy and worrying about what needs to be done the following day, make a list before you go to bed. It will put your mind at rest knowing you are organised and ready for the following day.
Don’t over-indulge: Eating and drinking too much, especially caffeine rich drinks, will prevent deep, fulfilling sleep. Alcohol can have the same affect too; it may make you feel sleepy, but it will disturb your sleep later on. However, warm milky drinks, or herbal teas, such as camomile, could help you to relax before bedtime.
Use Lavender: Lavender’s scent has proven relaxation qualities that help induce sleep. Sprays are available for use on pillows, or some prefer to have dried lavender in a vase (making for a pretty decoration too). Otherwise, you could try lavender-scented diffusers, or massaging your hair with lavender oil.
Get a new bed: Beds have a life-span of approximately seven years, and during this time, the quality will dramatically decrease, affecting the way you sleep. Everybody has different ideas for comfort, so when shopping for a new bed, make sure your bed is the right size, height and softness for you, and that health issues are supported too.
For professional advice and more information, visit The Sleep Council’s website.