Five steps to a good night’s sleep (guest blog)

We all know the difference that sleep can make to our wellbeing. After a bad night it can become harder to rationalise our worries and anxieties whilst day to day challenges can start to feel overwhelming.

The amount of sleep we need varies according to our age but according to the National Sleep Foundation, teenagers should aim for 8-10 hours, whilst working age adults should get 7-9 hours and older adults should aim for 7-8 hours.

Here are five tips to help you get a good night’s sleep

Stick to a regular bedtime

Keeping the same bedtime and waking up time is easier said than done if you are working irregular shifts but it does help your internal body clock.

We struggle with this one, as there’s often very little evening left once the children are in bed. However, I feel the benefit if I get to bed at the usual time rather than trying to stretch myself for another hour.

Plan a relaxing routine

Your body needs a few hints that bedtime is on its way and doesn’t react well to suddenly being informed that the day has ended. Some people stick to a routine which involves having a bath or doing some gentle exercises, although reading a book does the trick for me. Needless to say, drinking lots of caffeine or anything full of sugar just before you go to bed doesn’t help.

For years I thought that my Dad was just lucky in that he was able to fall asleep within seconds of hitting the pillow. He finally explained to me that his bedtime routine started long before that with a familiar pattern of getting things ready for the morning, brushing his teeth, reading a book and so on.

Write down your worries and tasks

Some people find it helpful to write down things that are occupying their mind at bedtime. For me, these are usually quite mundane things which I’ve remembered I need to do in the morning but occasionally it is bigger issues. You’ll have a much better chance of resolving some of these issues in the morning than you would in the middle of the night!

Switch off your phone

Personally I found that my sleep improved when I made an effort to stop tapping away on my phone long before I started getting ready for bed. The blue light from phones and tablets makes us more alert and slows the release of melatonin, which helps us sleep. I also leave my phone downstairs so that I’m not tempted to start shopping on eBay in the middle of the night.

Find a supportive mattress

You don’t need to spend thousands to get a good mattress, but make sure that your mattress is providing the support you need. As a general rule, lighter people need a softer mattress whilst heavier people need a firmer mattress. If you suffer from allergies then you may be better off with a memory foam mattress, rather than the more traditional pocket sprung type of mattress.

Robert is a travel and lifestyle blogger and former journalist who runs The Best Mattresses Guide

 

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