A sleep specialist breaks down how to not only sleep better but deeper, while you're at it.
Quite often the recommended eight hours of sleep seems like a far-off fantasy. Some nights it's even laughable when we find our brains consumed by work, stress, and life in general, making drifting off into a deep slumber a huge task.
It's a vicious cycle: When we don't get enough sleep and have to wake up early and push through the rest of the day, we begin to crash, only to find ourselves in another state of sleeplessness that night. The most relaxing part of our day has undoubtedly become a stressor.
To help ease our mind and make that trip into sleep land a much easier journey, we connected with sleep expert, Lucy Wolfe. Starting with just how much sleep we should be getting in order to function like normal beings.
"Typically we are aiming for 7-9 hours of sleep on a daily basis. it is recommended to have the same wake time every time without exception unless you don't report the issues- daytime napping is a very good way to increase sleep amounts- so a nap between 12-2 pm provided that it doesn't stop you going asleep at bedtime can be productive. The main message is to try to fill your quota daily whenever possible." says Wolfe.
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The good news is that if you're far from getting a seven-hour sleep, there are very easy fixes—meaning you’re just a few lifestyle tweaks away from getting some consistently solid shut-eye. Keep reading to find out how to sleep better tonight!
Research confirms that a cool bedroom makes for the best sleep. Throughout the course of a day, your body temperature rises and falls, and that pattern is tied to your sleep cycle. Your body temperature should dip as you approach bedtime and continue to cool until it nears morning. "Enhance your sleep environment - cool, comfortable and dark without disruptions is the recipe for a good nights sleep," explains Wolfe. If your bedroom is too warm, it can interfere with this natural temperature cycle and make you restless.
WATCH YOUR COFFEE SCHEDULE
We love slurping down a few cups of coffee a day (or five or six), but our java habit is really inhibiting our beauty sleep. It can take over six hours for caffeine to be eliminated from your system meaning that mid-afternoon coffee to keep you going can keep you awake way past your bedtime. "Avoid caffeine after 2.30 pm" recommends Wolfe. We'll stick to our morning cups of joe only, then.
You've heard it a million times, but for those of us who mindlessly surf Instagram and Twitter while our heads are on the pillow (guilty), here's a million and one: "Definitely make the bedroom a tech-free zone. Switch off 1-2 hours before bedtime and yes, that does mean your phone." says Wolfe. That Story and those Friends reruns can wait until the next day.
take part in the act of self-care
You have a regular morning ritual that helps you launch your day feeling energized and alert, then an after-work routine that eases the transition from the professional world to your personal life. But if you haven't adopted some specific nighttime habits that prime you for deep, restful sleep, then you're shortchanging your health. "Develop a pre-sleep ritual and a post-sleep ritual so that you are kind to your body at both sleep and wake times."An hour before you plan to hit the sack, start partaking in a nighttime ritual whether it's taking ten minutes to do your skincare routine or spritzing your pillows with a sleep spray, making them part of your nightly routine will help you drift off to dreamland and score the restorative sleep your brain and body need.
DIM THE LIGHTS
Light signals the brain that it’s time to be awake. Lowering the lights triggers your brain to produce melatonin, the sleep-inducing hormone. "Have a regular wake and corresponding regular bedtime - use lighting and dim light to help initiate wake and sleep times," recommends Wolfe. Remember, even rolling over and catching a glimpse of the clock can impact the quality of your sleep. Stash your alarm clock away in a drawer, and try sleeping with an eye mask to prevent any light leaks from interfering with your slumber.
Main image by Priscilla Du Preez