Let’s be honest, most people struggle with sleep at some point or another.
Even if you generally get a good night’s sleep on most nights, the chances are that you still wake up tired and groggy. You also probably get the odd night where sleep just isn’t forthcoming.
It’s increasingly common for people to suffer from chronic sleep deprivation, either due to insomnia or another sleep disorder. We live busy, stressful lives, and while we sorely need sleep, often our waking life can encroach on our nights.
So, let’s look at some of the things you can do to hopefully, improve your sleep quality and quantity.
Why it Matters
In short, sleep is a bit like food, water, and oxygen. Your body needs these things to survive. That’s why it matters.
When you sleep, your body and mind get some all-important rest. Your body will also restore and heal itself after a day of activity, so if you’re ill and injured, sleep is often the key to a quick recovery.
Sleep also helps you to process the events of the day and keeps your brain sharp and working well.
You mainly notice the effects of sleep when you are deprived of it. While you might feel a bit under the weather and tired after a bad night’s sleep, you can usually manage. But if it’s been a few nights, the impact adds up.
You will wake up groggy. Your head and body might ache and it’s difficult to get up. You’re irritable and thinking is more difficult because your cognitive abilities are diminished. Your reaction speeds are slower, so if you drive a vehicle, you’re more likely to get into an accident.
Oh, and of course, you will be exhausted all of the time.
Chronic sleep deprivation can make you feel like a different person, and not in a good way. It is detrimental to your physical and mental health. So, let’s try to improve our sleep, shall we?
In recent years, there seems to be an idea that, if you can make do with four hours of sleep a night and be productive all day, you’re living a healthy lifestyle. But this is ignoring basic biology.
Yes, some people can function on less sleep than others, but needing to fulfill a basic bodily need isn’t some personal failing. It’s not sustainable to expect your body to work properly and healthily if you don’t give it the rest it needs.
So, you need to schedule an appropriate amount of sleep a day. Most people need between 6-8 hours of sleep a day to be healthy, and if it takes you a little while to drift off, this can mean scheduling at least 7 hours a night for your bedtime.
On a similar note, try to go to bed and get up at the same time every day. Your body craves routine, and a regular bedtime routine will help your circadian rhythm to work properly, meaning that you will fall asleep more quickly and enjoy a better quality of sleep.
Good Sleep Hygiene
Good sleep hygiene is nothing to do with how clean you are, or how clean your bed is. Although saying this, a tidy bedroom and clean sheets can help you to get to sleep more quickly.
Rather, good sleep hygiene means that you make sure that your bedroom is an appropriate place to sleep. First, think about light and temperature. Most people sleep best in a cool, dark room.
Bright lights can interfere with your circadian rhythm, making it harder to sleep well. Blue light, such as the light that blares from electronic devices and screens, is especially bad.
Try to avoid using a device shortly before bed, or at least use a blue light filter to lessen the effect. Ideally, you should sleep with your mobile phone away from you to avoid scrolling through social media or browsing when you’re meant to be asleep.
Your Bedtime Ritual
You also want to get your body and mind ready for sleep. If you’re tense and active, you’re not going to sleep anytime soon.
Many people find that scented candles can work wonders for getting you to sleep, although make sure to blow the flame out before getting into bed. Herbal tea can also put you in a more restful frame of mind, and a hot bath can help you relax after a hard day.
But these are just suggestions. Everyone is different, so build a bedtime ritual that works for you.