12 Things you should do to get the best night's sleep!
A good night’s sleep is super important for our health and wellbeing throughout the whole of our lives. The way you feel while you’re awake very much depends on what happens while you sleep as this is the time our body works to support healthy brain function and a healthy immune system1…poor quality or lack of sleep leaves little time for your body to work its magic!
Our body has two systems involved in regulating our sleep; sleep-wake homeostasis and our circadian rhythm1. Sleep-wake homeostasis is a restorative process, it’s about finding the balance between sleep and wakefulness, so if we have been awake for a long period of time, our sleep-wake homeostasis creates a drive for our body to sleep2.
Our circadian rhythm is our internal alarm clock, responsible for telling our body what hormones to release to control our appetite, energy, hunger and the timing of periods of sleepiness and wakefulness throughout the day2.
In addition to protecting our physical health and brain function, sleep has an effect on our physical appearance too. People often complain of dark circles and bag under their eyes after a poor night’s sleep, and a recent study carried out in Stockholm, Sweden finally brought truth to the phrase ‘beauty sleep’ 3.
Participants were photographed after a normal night’s sleep (8 hours) and following sleep deprivation (31 hours of wakefulness after a night of reduced sleep). Results indicated that sleep-deprived people do indeed look less healthy and less attractive compared to their well-rested selves3.
We can all be guilty of the late night here and there, enjoying a night out with friends, staying up to watch another episode of that all-consuming TV series, cramming for an exam or even working late, it’s bound to happen – but moderation is most definitely key.
A good night’s sleep should be considered a necessity, not a luxury, so follow our steps to creating the perfect atmosphere and bedtime routine for a blissful night’s sleep!
TICK – TOCK
Most people function best after 7-8 hours’ sleep, but sticking to a bedtime and a bedtime routine is equally as important as setting aside enough time for an adequate night’s sleep. Keeping a regular sleep schedule – even on weekends – helps maintain the timing of your body’s circadian rhythm, which can help make falling asleep and waking up easier4.
Making sure you wind down and relax at least an hour before you plan to go to bed will help your body and mind enter a restful state before your head hits the pillow.
CUT THE CAFFEINE
Caffeine can temporarily make up feel more alert by blocking sleep-inducing chemicals in the brain and increasing adrenalin production5 – but it can, in no way, replace sleep. Caffeine can persist in the body for several hours and should be avoided at least 4 hours before going to bed to ensure caffeine doesn’t affect your bedtime routine6, this includes coffee, tea, and caffeinated soft drinks.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
The main hormone involved in getting a restful night’s sleep is melatonin, which is produced in the brain, but also the gut. Cherries are one of the few natural foods to contain melatonin and have demonstrated an improvement in sleep duration and quality in adults who suffer insomnia7. As a practice, stick to foods with a low glycaemic index for the slow release of energy overnight, avoid foods high in sugar that will be disruptive to your sleeping pattern.
DISCONNECT FROM DISTRACTIONS
Checking your Instagram, Facebook, Twitter feed and email can be so tempting, you’re just one click away from beautiful photos, funny videos and current affairs from around the world! But cutting yourself off from technology as part of your evening routine will have a big impact and improvement on your sleep. You’ll waste less time being distracted, and it will help you slow down, clear your mind and relax.
SIMPLIFY SKIN CARE
Removing the day’s impurities and cleansing the skin is a necessary beauty ritual and good bedtime habit. You want to go to bed feeling fresh and comfortable in your own skin. Santé skin care range allows you to remove makeup, cleanse and exfoliate using nothing but water for clean, clear and comfortable skin that can breathe through the night.
ATMOSPHERE IS EVERYTHING
It is possible to get rid of minor sleep problems by creating a comfortable sleep environment. Your sleeping space should be peaceful and comfortable. Consider soft lamp light as opposed to bright overhead lights. Circulate your bedroom with fresh air for a couple of hours before bed. Keep noise to a minimum or listen to relaxing music on a low volume.
The last thing that should be separating you from your dreams is your pillow! Investing in a quality pillow that’s supportive as well as soft is worth every cent! According to experts, firmness and support are important, but you also have to consider your sleeping style8. Follow this quick quiz and find the pillow of your dreams.
Caffeine is a no-no, but there are plenty of other drink options with soothing and sleep-inducing properties. Chamomile is widely regarded as a mild tranquillizer and sleep inducer9, unlike green and black tea, chamomile comes from a daisy-like plant and offers a warming, relaxing and hydrating bedtime drink.
Not being able to switch your brain off and stop the internal questioning is a common problem linked to insomnia. Multi-tasking and juggling a busy work-life balance can mean you have a to-do list that you can’t escape. To prevent your list from preventing sleep, keep a notebook on your nightstand, jot all the things on your mind down for reference in the morning. This simple act should stop these thoughts from circulating your mind.
Undergoing some soothing stretch sequences before bed is said to help ease muscle tension and improve circulation for an improved night’s sleep. Check out this 8-minute yoga workout for better sleep!
Reading before bed is a healthy sleep habit that can make a big difference to your quality of life but also your sleep. Reading helps separate real-life stresses from your sleep time11 meaning it’s more likely to drift into a peaceful sleep.
3. Axelsson J, et al. BMJ 2010:14;doi: 10.1136/bmj.c6614
7. Howatson G, et al. Eur J Nutr. 2012;51(8):909-16