Sleep Hygiene: how to sleep better
Everyone can appreciate that relaxed feeling you get the morning after a long deep sleep. So when your sleep cycle is disturbed it feels like a far cry away. Lack of sleep can bring on irritability and the feeling of being overly tired during the day.
Sleep hygiene can help you achieve a better nights sleep in a similar way to a healthy diet can help you physically feel better. This article will guide you through sleep hygiene with some case studies.
What is sleep hygiene?
Sleep hygiene is a term used for practices that enable a sleeper to set themselves up for ‘sleep success’. It’s a number of tools and routines that have been shown to aid a more restful and consistent nights sleep. Think of sleep hygiene as your good night tool kit that can help you sleep better during the night. It’s not just the state of your mattress that’s important for a good nights sleep but also getting into good sleeping habits.
How can I improve my sleep patterns?
When customers get in touch with us we hear from a number of you who struggle to get to sleep. In some cases, it’s your mattress which is the main culprit which we provide more detail on below. However, it’s also important to check that you’re setting yourself up for sleep success. Here are some handy sleep hygiene tips.
1. Avoiding Caffeine before you go to bed
It may sound obvious but drinking coffee and other caffeinated drinks before bedtime can be a real no-no. Caffeine actually decreases the number of sleep neuro-transmitters meaning its harder to fall asleep once under the influence of caffeine as your minds more awake. Caffeine also signals to the liver to release blood sugars giving you a boost of energy. Which isn’t’ ideal just before bedtime! So if you struggle to sleep why not switch to caffeine-free beverages
2. Cut late-night eating
Again, if you’re a late-night snacker then this could be affecting your sleep habits. If you eat just before bedtime then you may end up suffering from indigestion once lying down. This can then affect your sleep cycle. It’s best to make sure you stop eating a good few hours before bedtime.
3. Sleep at regular times
One of the common causes of sleep disturbance is irregular or erratic sleeping patterns. Meaning that sometimes your mind can be racing before bedtimes or sleepy during parts of the day. Especially if your bedtime routine is out of sync. Try as best you can to get into a regular sleeping routine. Going to bed at the same time each night. Also ensuring your rooms at a comfortable temperature or has enough ventilation. There’s nothing worse than either a freezing cold or red hot bedroom to keep you awake! (If you are a hot sleeper then we have a guide all about that here!)
4. Have a warm bath before bed
Having a bath is a great way of helping calm the mind before bed and allowing your body to unwind. A warm bath has been proven to help induce sleep in allowing your body to reach a comfortable temperature before sleep. Candles, calming music and essential oils can turn bath time into a mini pamper session away from other distractions!
5. Unwind your mind with lists
Many people contact us saying their mind races before they go to bed and sometimes they can’t sleep for thinking about things they need to do. This can be really frustrating especially if your body is tired but your mind won’t let you sleep.
One neat trick is to write a list a few hours before bedtime of everything on your mind. In fact, we at John Ryan do this all the time.
Writing a list helps you in two ways. Firstly it often allows you to see that there are actually far fewer things need to be done than when they’re all swirling around in your mind. Secondly, it allows you to forget about these items until the next day. If you haven’t already tried it we recommend giving it a go!
6. Exposure to enough natural light
If you work in an office all day during the winter months you can end up feeling like you wake up in the dark and arrive home in darkness too! It’s been shown that exposure to light levels helps set your body clock. If you think you’re one of those people who may be spending most of your daytime indoors then getting more access to natural light can help you sleep better.
You can even buy lightboxes to help provide an extra blast of light to help reset and reconfigure your body clock. These are specifically useful during darker months. They can also help boost alertness during morning use making you wake up easily and also help you sleep better in the evenings.
7. Avoid working late at night and using gadgets
We’re all guilty of staring at our screens a little bit too much during the day. It can be often tempting to be checking your phone or working on a laptop late into the evenings. The blue light emitted from the screen can overstimulate your brain leading to a heightened state of alert. This, in turn, can disrupt your sleep pattern as your minds racing.
Whilst certain gadgets have a nighttime setting turning the screen to a red hue, it’s recommended that you avoid using gadgets again 2 hours before going to bed. Helping to clear your mind and calm your thoughts!
8. Meditation and mindfulness
If you’re struggling to sleep then a short evening meditation or mindfulness practice may help you drift off to sleep. We’ve already discussed just how distracting a busy mind can be on sleep patterns. One way to help get yourself ready for sleep is to practice meditation. Meditation is simply becoming aware of your breathing and slowly letting thoughts come and go.
There’s plenty of apps and books available to help you start your meditation practice. Even a 5-minute meditation or mindfulness exercise can help slow down your thoughts resulting in a better nights sleep. If you haven’t yet tried it, it is well worth giving it a go!
Is your mattress stopping you from sleeping?
If you’ve tried the above tips and tricks and are still struggling to sleep then it may be your mattress that needs attention. If you’ve had your mattress a number of years it may be that it’s starting to give up the ghost. Most entry-level mattresses have an average shelf life of 3-5 years, especially memory foam and synthetic mattresses.
Most people are sleeping on the incorrect spring tension; wrongly sold by retailers
As a rule of thumb, the spring tension of your mattress is dictated by your weight. See the table below for a guide. If you and your partner are different weights then a Zip & Link or Split Tension mattress can provide you both with the perfect night’s sleep.
|Spring Tension||Wire diameter (Gauge)||Weight Range|
|Soft||1.2mm||Upto 8 stone|
|Firm||1.6mm||16 stone plus|
|Extra Firm / Orthopaedic||1.9mm||20 stone plus|
Then the comfort layers of your mattress help give it the soft, medium or firm feel. Upholstery layers are the fibres that sit on top of the spring support system. By layering up different fibres you can achieve a variety of tailored sleep options. So why settle for run of the mill when you could have a bespoke sleep system exactly for your needs?
Sleep hygiene is all about setting up a bedtime regime that will help you sleep better. Clearing your mind, relaxing your body and avoiding any stimulus late at night can have a dramatic improvement in your sleep patterns. If you struggle to switch off then why not write a list and park those ideas until tomorrow? If you’re feeling anxious then maybe some meditation is the key to unlocking a dreamy night sleep. In some cases it may be your mattress that’s causing the issues and if so then why not get in touch with our small expert team?
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