Why is sleep important?
Getting regular, good quality sleep is very important for your physical, mental and emotional health, helping you to cope better with things that come your way. Sleep plays an important role in looking after your immune system. Studies have shown that good sleep can even lower your risk of developing health problems, including diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure.
Here are our top tips for getting a good nights’ sleep:
1. Establish a sleep routine
Set up a regular sleep routine, aiming to go to bed and wake up at the same times every day. Avoid sleeping in at the weekend, as this can make it harder to wake up on Monday morning.
2. Get outside
Getting outside and exposing yourself to natural light forces our bodies to fall in sync with natural light and dark cycles by helping to regulate a hormone in your body called melatonin, which helps to regulate your sleep and wake patterns. Furthermore, natural light and morning sunshine, in particular, is enriched with blue light which has a very powerful influence on setting internal clocks. So now that the days are finally starting to draw out and light levels are better, why not get outside for a walk, or into the garden or allotment.
3. Limit your news intake
The sheer volume of information and news reports on coronavirus (COVID-19) can feel overwhelming and increase both your stress and anxiety levels. Avoid the temptation to watch the news or use social media a few hours before bed. Check-in on any news developments in the morning instead.
4. Eat well and exercise
Studies have shown that regular exercise and being active during the day can help you sleep better by relieving any worry or anxiety you have. Exercise regularly but avoid doing it too late in the evening as it may give you trouble sleeping. Maintaining a healthy diet and drinking plenty of water during the day is also linked with good sleep. Avoid eating large meals late at night, as these can cause indigestion and affect your sleep.
5. Be careful with naps
If you’ve had a bad night’s sleep and are feeling tired, you may be tempted to take a nap during the day. A short power nap in the early part of the afternoon can be helpful for some people. But avoid having a long nap, or napping later in the day, as this could affect your sleep at night.
6. Limit your alcohol and caffeine intake
Avoid caffeinated drinks, such as tea, coffee and energy drinks, from midday onwards. Drinking more alcohol during lockdown can affect the quantity and quality of your sleep. While alcohol may help you fall asleep faster, it can disrupt your sleep later on in the night.
7. Reduce light before sleep
It’s important to reduce light before you sleep. Artificial lighting can trick your body into thinking it’s daylight. Dim the lights and remove electronic devices that emit blue light from your bedroom before bed.
8. Practise winding down
Building relaxation techniques into your daily routine before bed can improve your sleep.
- having a bath
- dimming the lights and putting on some relaxing music
- reading a book
- mindfulness meditation / relaxation techniques
- breathing techniques
9. Write down your thoughts
If you’re struggling with poor sleep try writing down your worrying or busy thoughts. This helps to stop them from building up inside your head. Keep a notepad and pen beside your bed and use it before you go to sleep, or if you wake up during the night. You may find this helps you get back to sleep.
10. Don’t just lie there if you can’t sleep
If you still can’t sleep after 20 minutes, don’t lie there thinking about it, get up and do something relaxing.