What can we do to get a good night’s sleep?
There are various tips we can try in order to give our bodies the best chance of a good night’s sleep.
1. Don’t worry
It’s easy to panic when you read a scary headline about sleep deprivation. Many people resort to purchasing sleep trackers in an attempt to control their sleep a little better.
However, one of the best things you can do is to stop worrying so much about your sleep. Unless you are consistently struggling to get more than just a few hours of sleep, there’s plenty of simple things you can do to give your sleep a big boost. Worrying about your sleep will only make things worse!
Your body clock requires a steady routine, a sense of internal balance. Try to make sure that you’re waking up at the same time each day, ideally 7 days a week. Don’t worry about the time you go to bed, listen to your own cues and go to bed when you’re tired. That’s not to say you can’t allow yourself a bit of a lie in on the weekend but try to keep that consistency for the most part.
3. Try to associate your bedroom with sleeping – and make it comfortable
This might sound like an odd thing to say but how many of us have a TV in our bedrooms, or use our phones at night? For a better night’s sleep, try to reduce any distractions and make sure your bed is comfortable. Do you have a supportive mattress and a suitable pillow or pillows? These things can have a big influence on your sleep quality. Comfort is key.
4. Make your room as dark as possible
Try and make sure your room is as dark as possible and also nice and cool. The majority of us prefer a cooler room, as it brings our body temperature down and allows us to enter our sleep cycles more effectively. Blackout blinds and a fan by the bed in the spring/summer months can help us drop off and promote better quality sleep.
5. Avoid clutter or working in the bedroom
Try to maintain the boundaries between your work life and your home life. Ensure you have a dedicated workspace that’s away from the bedroom if possible, so your bedroom remains somewhere associated with relaxation and sleep, and declutter any mess on the floor around you. This has the effect of making your environment more calming.
6. Staying hydrated (with the right liquid)
Keeping hydrated can have an effect on your sleep cycle – if we’re dehydrated when we enter our sleep cycle we’re more likely to experience disturbed sleep. Make sure you drink enough water during the day and don’t be tempted to top up last thing at night, as that’s likely to result in you waking up in the night to go to the loo!
Also be aware of drinking caffeinated drinks before bed. It takes around 9 hours to flush out your system, so having a coffee or tea before bed means it’s going to act as a stimulant at a time you want to be winding down. Ideally try and keep a caffeine-free window of at least 4-5 hours before bed time.
Alcohol before bed might help you fall asleep more quickly, but the chances are your sleep quality will be affected by waking up multiple times during the night.
Many of us have a general idea of what a sleep study involves – spending a night wired up to a machine while scientists monitor activity and run tests. However, according to Charlene Gamaldo, medical director of Johns Hopkins Center for Sleep at Howard County General Hospital, “the future of sleep research looks much different. Sleep clinical care and research is in a revolutionary place because of technology.”
“…conducting sleep studies in a medical care centre is really going to be fading into the sunset or will be minimal at best. New approaches to testing are likely to take place in the comfort of your own home.”8
Global Market Insights predict that the sleep tech business is going to be a $27 billion industry by 2025.9 Some of the technologies on offer include:
- Sleep trackers - Offering insights into your sleep stages and quality of sleep, sleep trackers can help provide clarity on what area needs to be improved in order to get a better night’s sleep. Ranging from wearables on your wrist to a device that fits on your mattress or under your pillow, the results can provide a steer for doctors.
- Bedside monitors - Sitting on your bedside table, these monitors provide you with a sleep score but calculate it by using sonar waves to monitor your chest movement and breathing patterns. The results then feed into an overall sleep score. Also fed into this are stress levels and how much exercise has been done – both factors that can affect mental health.
Try not to jump straight into investing in a sleep tracker before you’ve taken some time to self-reflect and work out your own cues. Your body is the best version of sleep technology you can get! It tells you when you are tired, when you should get to sleep, and lets you know what things might be helping or hindering your sleep.
If you’re having real trouble sleeping and you feel like this has become an issue that doesn’t seem to be improving, it’s worth having a chat with your GP. There’s plenty of help available for sleep disorders, as well as online resources such as NHS Live Well, National Sleep Foundation and Mind.
Sleep hub – AXA Health
Eat your way to a better night’s sleep – AXA Health
Ten top tips for a better night’s sleep - AXA Health
Sleep tips for all ages - AXA Health
Sleep apnoea and other disorders - AXA Health
1. Chattu et al. (2018) Insufficient Sleep Syndrome: Is it time to classify it as a major noncommunicable disease? Sleep Science, 11(2): 56-64.
2. Leprault, R & Cauter, E.V. (2011) Effect of One Week of Sleep Restriction on Testosterone Levels in Young Healthy Men. JAMA, 1:305(2): 2173-2174.
3. Britain’s Healthiest Workplace, RAND Europe Corp (2019). Reported figures based on 450 employers, >158,000 employees in the UK.
4. Cappuccio, F. P., et al. (2010) Sleep Duration and All-Cause Mortality: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Prospective Studies. Sleep. 33(5): 585–592.
5. Meng L. et al., (2013) The relationship of sleep duration and insomnia to risk of hypertension incidence: a meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. Hyp Res, 36: 985-995.
6. Shan Z. et al., (2015) Sleep Duration and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes: A Meta-analysis of Prospective Studies. Diabetes Care, 38(3): 529-537.
7. The Sleep Foundation. How much sleep do we really need?
8. Charlene Gamaldo, Medical Director of Johns Hopkins Center for Sleep at Howard County General Hospital.The future of sleep studies.
9. Global Market Insights Sleep Tech Devices Market Growth Forecast Report 2019-2025. Published Date: October 2019. Report ID: GMI4405.