Getting a good night’s sleep can be a vital part of your well-being

March 1, 2024

March is National Bed Month, a good time to think about your sleeping habits and if there are ways you can improve or enhance your sleep routines. It might be hard to create that picture perfect bedroom with a super comfy bed, beautiful furnishings and perfect peace, but we can make simple changes that can have a positive and noticeable impact.

Getting a good night’s sleep has many positive effects, from feeling emotionally well to concentration, even improved wellness. The amount of sleep you need to function well varies from person to person and may well change with age, time of year and your general health. The important thing is that you become aware of what is right for you.

Getting a good night’s sleep can have benefits on our mental health, our energy levels and our immune system.

It is generally recognised that most adults benefit from around 7 hours of sleep a night, but some will need more or less. The key is that you have a good quality of sleep and wake up feeling refreshed and not groggy.

We all know that one of the simplest ways to help prepare for a good night’s sleep is to limit screen time before bed. A digital detox of not using a screen of any sort for at least an hour before you go to bed can have a significant impact. By the same token, help yourself prepare for the day by waking up slowly, stretching and maybe focus on your breathing for a few minutes before reaching for your phone.

Reducing screen time before bed can be one of the most beneficial changes we can make when trying to improve the quality of out sleep.

When the body is deprived of good quality sleep, it affects more than just our mental wellbeing and energy levels, it can also have an impact on our immune system. Some of our immune function, such as the production of protective cytokines decrease when we don’t get enough sleep. Therefore you are also the functioning of your immune system and its ability to function properly.

There are also studies that show that a good night’s sleep can improve your metabolism and therefore help with weight management. If we are tired, we are more likely to feel hungry and reach for sugary foods to give us an energy boost. A refreshing sleep can help our energy levels and also mean we are not reaching for the sugar boost of a quick and often unhealthy, snack.

The NHS recommends putting a plan into place to help us get a good quality sleep and gain the benefits of better mental health and less anxiety. Here are some top tips to help you create good sleep habits and  start creating a better sleep pattern.

  • Set a time, around an hour or so before going to bed, to start winding down and put the screens away.
  • Read or listen to gentle music or a relaxation podcast to help start the relaxation process before you get into bed.
  • If your mind tends to get too caught up in worries and turning over the events of the day, the NHS recommend some simple self-help CBT techniques for mindfulness practices to help you sleep.
  • Create the right environment as it is generally easier to drop off to sleep if your room is cool and dark. Don’t have the heating on high and try to have thick curtains or blinds to block out the light.
  • If you really can’t get to sleep, sometimes it is better to get up and sit in a comfy chair and listen to something relaxing for awhile. Obviously reaching for your phone is the last thing you should be doing!
  • Diet and exercise can play a role too. Simple things like not eating a large meal too late in the day and avoiding caffeine containing drinks in the evening can have a positive effect. Opt for herbal teas such as chamomile or sleepy-time blends with valerian and lemon balm.
  • If you enjoy exercise, try not to do anything too vigorous in the 90 minutes before bedtime as it can over stimulate the body and stop you from sleeping.
  • A warm, but not excessively hot bath or shower can help relax tired and tense muscles and give you a few moments of switching off before bed.

Simple mindfulness techniques can help you ‘switch off’ an over active mind.

There are also plenty of natural solutions to helping you get into a good sleep patter,  HIf you drink a lot of caffeinated drinks, try switching to herbal teas throughout the day not just in the evening. Remember that green tea will often contain caffeine too, so look for decaffeinated versions if that is your favourite herbal brew.

  • Keep your diet as ‘clean’ as possible by avoiding too much sugar as this can cause an energy boost, even if it is short lived. Try to avoid artificial colouring and flavouring s if you are sensitive to those.
  • Keep hydrated too by drinking water throughout the day.
  • Lavender oil can be used in the bath, a diffuser or a few drops on a tissue tucked inside your pillow case to help you relax and unwind.
  • The mineral magnesium is needed to help normal muscle function, if you find your muscles are tense and you struggle to relax, taking a magnesium supplement in the evening can be useful.
  • Whilst B vitamins are important for the health of the nervous system and if we are less stressed, we sleep better, they can keep some people awake at night, so aim to take them no later than around 4pm.

Creating a calm environment and getting that perfect sleep, might not be easy, but little steps can help you make a positive impact on your wellbeing. Why not take the opportunity of National Bed Month to make small changes that ultimately make a big difference. Even if you can introduce one new habit a week, by the end of March that will mean that you have four new strategies in place.

Start with simple steps, changing everything at once can be so dramatic that it causes us more stress and a good sleep is even further out of reach.

Start by taking easy steps, make sure your room is not too hot and maybe reduce your screen time. Even this will have an impact and you can build on it each week. Setting achievable goals is a far better way to reach your main aim rather than doing everything at once. And remember … don’t get cross with yourself if it doesn’t all go to plan, there is no point getting yourself more stressed when your aim is to destress. We are all human and life often gets in the way of our plans, so take one step and a time and be kind to yourself when it doesn’t all go smoothly. Sweet dreams.

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