Regularly getting the right amount of quality sleep is as important as nutrition and exercise for a healthy lifestyle. Here are 17 healthy sleep habits that will leave you feeling healthier, more energised and more productive.
1. Keep a consistent sleep/wake schedule, even on weekends - Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Staying up later or sleeping in later than normal can disrupt your body’s natural clock. It's one of the reasons Monday mornings can seem tough as we often break our sleep cycle over the weekend.
2. Set an alarm to go to bed - If you find yourself consistently going to bed too late consider setting yourself an alarm to go to bed.
3. Resist the urge to hit the snooze button - Sleep between the snooze alarm is just not high-quality sleep. The snooze button often disturbs REM sleep, which can make us feel groggier than when we wake up during other stages of sleep. You don’t have to leap out of bed in the morning, but setting the alarm for a slightly later time and skipping a snooze cycle or two could bring big benefits.
4. Get the right bedding - You spend around a third of your life in bed so having the right bedding is key to a good night's sleep. The scooms duvet and pillow are engineered to perfection.
5. Take care of your bedding - Dust mites might just love your pillows even more than you do. In some people, the build up of these bugs can trigger allergic reactions that make it harder to sleep. So clean your duvets and pillows regularly and replace your pillows every 6 to 12 months.
6. Go for a walk in the morning - In the morning, exposure to the sun (or indoor light), won’t just give you an energy boost, it can also reset your circadian rhythm. A quick outdoor stroll in the morning will give you enough sun exposure to signal to your brain that it’s time to start the day. No time to walk? Simply raise the blinds or switch on your brightest light instead.
7. Get regular exercise each day - But not just before bed. Good exercise can improve sleep.
8. Choose the right temperature for your bedroom - A room that’s too hot and a room that’s too cold can both mess with your sleep. Aim for somewhere between 15C and 20C.
9. Only use the bedroom for sleep and relaxation - Don’t watch TV in bed or work on the computer.
10. Power down an hour before bed - Dim the lights and turn off all your devices; smartphones, laptops, TVs, all of which belong outside the bedroom, about 60 minutes before bedtime. Bright light is one of the biggest triggers to our brains that it’s time to be awake and alert, so start sending the opposite signal early.
11. Position your alarm clock correctly - Watching the seconds and minutes of a clock tick on and on as you try to fall asleep can increase your stress levels, making it harder for you to fall back to sleep once you’ve woken. If you still can’t sleep, read or listen to soothing music until you’re tired enough to fall back asleep.
12. Don’t drink caffeine or alcohol before bed - Caffeine interferes with pathways in the brain that promote sleep. Alcohol can help initiate sleep but it also fragments sleep, causing earlier wakening, more frequent bathroom trips and perhaps inducing or worsening snoring.
13. Don’t smoke before bed - Nicotine is a stimulant. What’s more it's dangerous if you fall asleep with a lit cigarette.
14. Avoid going to bed hungry - A light snack or milky drink can help but it is important not to eat too much before you go to sleep.
15. Avoid heavy meals when it’s late - Your body isn’t meant to be digesting while you sleep, so a big meal too close to bedtime may keep you up at night. Protein is especially hard to digest.
16. Skip the nap - Sleeping during the day makes it harder to fall asleep at night. If you must, limit your snooze session to 30 minutes and give yourself at least four hours between the nap and when you plan to go to bed for good.
17. Develop a bedtime routine - Creating a set of habits to run through at night will help your body recognise that it’s time to unwind. For instance, 30 to 60 minutes before bed, read in bed or take a warm shower or bath. (The warm water trick is particularly helpful – as you cool off, the drop in your body temperature will help you to feel sleepy!)