Everyone knows how terrible you can feel after just one bad night's sleep. Whether it's a big night out or a newborn baby we all know that sluggish feeling and we've all seen the jaded version of ourselves in the mirror. But did you know that not getting enough good quality sleep can affect long term health and well-being?
Poor sleep can be caused by emotional or physical illness or can be down to simply needing a new bed, mattress and/or pillows. If you find you are waking up still tired after a decent number of hours in bed, can't get to sleep or are waking in the night there are a few things you can do. Here's my 5 top tips for improving the quality of your sleep - perfect as we celebrate World Health Day on April 7.
1.Are you eating and drinking properly?
Lack of food can make falling asleep difficult and can impact the amount of deep restful sleep you get. A high carb diet, especially one which includes energy drinks and sugary beverages can really affect your sleep. Eat a healthy diet with plenty of fruit and veg which contain the essential vitamins to promote good sleep. Avoid caffeine in the couple of hours before bedtime to see if that helps too. And if you find yourself waking with a full bladder, cut down on all drinks, apart from water during the evening.
2.Are you anxious or ill?
Stress, anxiety and depression can all cause a restless or sleepless night. I was horrified to learn that being woken by a panic attack is a thing - a very unpleasant and scary thing. Some people find writing down worries before bedtime helps. I use a calming meditation on an app on my phone which I replay if I wake feeling anxious or panicky.
See a doctor for advice or medication or ask about counselling services, many of which work on a self referral basis. I've had some of the worst nights sleep dealing with pain from my teeth, migraine and fibromyalgia. You may have aches, pains and odd symptoms which are keeping you awake partly from the pain and partly from worrying about the symptoms. Peri-menopause and menopause can affect sleep with poor sleep, restless legs, hot flashes and more disturbing your slumber. Schedule a check-up with your doctor to sort any health conditions or reassure you that there's nothing to worry about
3. Do you need a new bed and/or mattress?
If your bed has broken slats, is not big enough for you to relax in comfortably or a has a saggy, tired mattress it is definitely time to go shopping. It's amazing that so many people will upgrade a £1K phone every two to three years but are happy to sleep on a 15 year old mattress. Even a bed which seems fine will have deteriorated over the years and a combination of a new bed and a new mattress could have you enjoying the Zzzzz's again.
Tempting as it is to look for a bargain, buying a bed and mattress which suits your needs is vital to ensure good health, wellbeing and a decent kip so take your time and invest in something you are love - after all the average person spends 26 years of their life sleeping so it makes sense to make your bedroom a really restful place.
4. Is your bedroom an oasis of calm? I'm the worst for ending my evening with a scroll through the socials and my news app but if you have more self control than me all the advice points to avoiding screens for at least an hour before bed. It's all science-y stuff about the production of melatonin helping you feel sleepy which is affected by the blue light produced by screens.
Electronic E-readers are not quite as bad for your sleep as other screens like mobile phones, tablets and laptops but if you can avoid them altogether you may find you fall asleep faster and sleep better and longer. Make sure your bedclothes are warm enough and if you wear anything at night, make sure it's made from natural fabric like cotton to avoid sweating. Invest in decent quality window coverings which cut out light from streetlights or daylight. I enjoy pillow sprays made with essential oils which always seem to help me drop off quicker and sleep better.
5. Do you have the right pillows? I have just abandoned an almost new set of pillows because they gave me neck ache and made my husband's snoring even worse than normal. I'd ordered them online and wished I had bothered to go out and give some pillows the squeeze test. If you wake up with headaches, backache or neck ache, cant get comfy or find your partner is making noises like a warthog with a megaphone you might need to replace your pillows. Even perfect pillows need replacing fairly frequently - every year ideally. This is for both comfort and hygiene reasons.