The Wonder of Sleep
Feeling tired? Well, you're not alone. We could all do with a little more shut eye. It turns out, us Brits are under-sleeping by at least an hour every night, the equivalent of a whole night’s sleep over the course of a week. I was recently reading an article on how the average adult gets around 6.8 hours of sleep a night when our bodies would much rather we had between 7 – 9 hours.
For those with babies and toddlers, its even less. UK parents are apparently getting just 5.1 hours of sleep per night in the first year of their child's life. Oh dear. This suggests that the average new parent loses 2.9 hours of sleep per night below the eight hours recommended minimum. You have my sympathy, but you will get through it. It just takes a few years!
So why are we missing out on so much sleep? For many, work will often have an overbearing tug on our lives, as we need an income to support our families, pay our mortgage, feed our children and of course, pay for trips to Centerparcs or Butlins. Work is often what wakes us at dawn and quite a lot of the time, keeps us up at night too.
Once we get home after a long day, we try to settle the household down after school and homework. We nag our children to ‘get to bed’ and yes, arguably, they do need more sleep than us as they are growing. But hey, we’re growing too. Not on the outside, but on the inside. We need our sleep to help us learn and grow in new ways. I’ll be honest with you, there has been occasions when I have said to the kids “right, off to bed now. I’m going to sleep myself soon” and it’s at moments like that, when I wish I had just crawled across the corridor to my own bed and done what I said. Am I sounding like I am getting old before my time, or am I just being smart by wanting for a few extra hours shut eye?
I’m sure we’ve all heard about how insufficient sleep is bad for our health. Sleep is an important factor when it comes to being attentive and concentrating. In fact, getting enough sleep is one of the most important activities for optimising our health and wellbeing as most of us struggle to get enough time to rest. So, what can we do to get more rest?
Here are my top 5 tips to getting more sleep: -
1. Quit digital technology an hour before bed
I’m terrible for checking my phone before bed, but I am trying hard to be better. A growing body of research suggests that staring at the blue and white light emitted from digital screens prevents your brain from releasing the hormone melatonin, which lets your body know when it's time to hit the hay. So it becomes harder to fall and stay asleep. Whoops.
2. Avoid alcohol on weeknights
As anyone who's nodded off after a few glasses of wine is aware (yes, that’s me), alcohol often helps you fall asleep. Sorry to be bearer of bad news, but research suggests that it can make it harder to stay asleep. As your body starts to metabolise the alcohol during the second half of the night, you may start to get restless.
I’ve tried to avoid alcohol during week nights and I feel must better for it. It’s so tempting to pour a glass of wine on a Wednesday night, but after sipping something non-alcoholic, the craving will soon pass. It’s not easy, but it works!
3. Don't consume caffeine after 5 p.m
I’ve cut out drinking caffeine after midday which in turn, has helped me sleep better. I only have a coffee in the afternoons if I am really flagging and feel like I need it! I have also switched to de-caffeinated tea and I find, it tastes the same. That means everyone who comes to my house gets a de-caffeinated tea, whether they like it or not and…they never notice.
4. Avoid late exercise
Experts recommend avoiding a strenuous workout before bed. To be honest, the chance of me doing this is slim! This is because exercise makes your body temperature rises during cardio workouts, which could make it harder to go to sleep. Instead, they recommend doing some yoga or simple stretching, which can help you relax. For me, that probably means leaning over to gently touch my toes.
5. Make sure your mattress fits
Believe it or not, lots of tossing and turning may be less about you and more about what you’re lying on. That’s right: An uncomfortable mattress might the source of your sleepless nights. Whether that’s because it’s lost its cushioning or because it’s simply too small, it’s important to recognize the signs that it’s time to buy a new one. Expect to make a swap every five to 10 years, according to Consumer Reports. Do any of us remember to change our mattress every five to 10 years?
I would recommend checking out Bruno Sleep. They have designed a high-density foam mattress to provide optimal support and comfort as you sleep. I was reading how the foam is cut into 7 zones - each reflecting specific pressure points on the body - and evenly distributes your weight while aligning your spine.
And there’s more, the Bruno Mattress’s springy natural latex top layer is designed to allow air to flow easily while you sleep, regulating your temperature and an ideal sleeping surface for those prone to allergies.
For beautiful bedding, check out Lulu and Nat.
After I visited their pop up shop in London on 7th April 2017, I was mesmerised by the beautiful colours and textures of their bedding range. Lulu and Nat spent several years living in India and now back in London, they have brought their vivid and colourful printed textiles to the people of Britain - all available online. I couldn't resist buying the tiger print bedding set (as shown above) for my son from Lulu and Nat. Will it help him sleep more? Who knows, but either way...the bedding is just delightful.
Feeling sleepy yet?...