If you’re struggling to sleep soundly, it’s time to re-evaluate your relationship with bedtime
Our relationship with sleep is arguably the most important one we’ll ever have. After all, sleep is essential for our health and wellbeing in a number of crucial ways. Not only does it stave off tiredness, but a good night’s sleep has also been shown to improve our heart health, reduce our risk of injury, and improve the symptoms of common mental health concerns like anxiety and depression.
Sleep is something we should value highly – particularly given that we can survive for longer without food than we can without sleep.
So it’s unfortunate that so many of us have a troubled relationship with getting to sleep and staying asleep. According to research from Aviva, as many as 16 million adults suffer from sleepless nights, and almost a third (31%) have insomnia.
If your relationship with bedtime is on the rocks, here are five simple changes you can make to improve your sleep habits and enjoy a better night of rest.
Make it an event
Don’t make sleep an afterthought. Many of us put sleep on the bottom of our priority list, with last-minute work, phone calls and even another episode of your current Netflix binge taking precedence.
Instead, try to turn sleep into its own event. And like any event, it should have a good opening act. Create a routine for yourself that you can do every day in order to prepare your body and mind for sleep, including giving yourself at least an hour free from screens in the run-up to bedtime.
Instead, read a book or engage in some gentle stretches or meditation. These are great ways to draw a line between the day’s events and going to sleep, as well as helping to relieve stress.
Set a bedtime and stick to it
As well as creating your own sleep routine, you should also make sure this routine takes place at around the same time every day. If we try to go to bed at wildly different times every night, our body clock never has a schedule to fall back on. Going to bed at the same time each night lets your body know that it is time to start unwinding and preparing for rest.
Be mindful of what you consume
This is true for the media you consume, as well as the food and drink. Scrolling through the news or social media right up until (and sometimes after) your head hits the pillow forces your brain to stay active in order to process the huge amounts of information you’re consuming. What’s more, the light from your smartphone screen can disrupt the release of vital sleep hormones like melatonin.
In terms of food and drink, you also need to be mindful. Beverages like caffeine and alcohol can prevent you from getting a restful night’s sleep and eating too close to bedtime is also not advisable.
Upgrade your bedroom
One way to get excited about sleep again is to turn your bedroom into your very own sleep sanctuary. Make your bedroom – and your bed – somewhere you enjoy spending time. Make sure your bedroom is cool and dark, and decorated with restful sleep in mind. Investing in fresh bedding and blackout blinds can make the prospect of going to bed far more appealing.
Just as importantly, look to banish the clutter. A tidy and minimalist room is a much easier place to switch off your brain than one with socks, jeans and (even worse) folders full of work documents.
Find what works for you
In the end, there is no one sleep tactic that works for everyone. The key is to explore different options and find what works for you in terms of making you feel more relaxed in the run-up to bedtime. By taking the time to investigate your relationship with sleep now, you can improve it in the long run.