It’s fair to say that we are all very busy; modern-day lifestyles demand this of us. We’re constantly surrounded by screens and expected to be ‘always on’, making the dream of a good night’s sleep all the more elusive.
We all know that there are benefits to improving the quality and quantity of our sleep – namely increased energy and alertness. However, crucially, poor sleep has a direct impact on our overall wellbeing underpinning a number of common mental health problems such as stress and anxiety.
In today’s busy, modern world, sleep has become a luxury, so it’s not surprising that sales of sleep tech have skyrocketed in recent years, fast becoming a billion-pound industry. Because anything that encourages us to work on improving the quantity and quality of our sleep should be applauded, right? We turn to sleep sensors, smart beds, breathing apps, sleep trackers, wearable heart monitoring devices and much, much more… But is this technology, that claims to improve sleep, actually exacerbating the problem? The concern is that putting all our efforts into trying to achieve the perfect night’s sleep can in fact have the exact opposite effect. By using the latest gadgets (usually involving devices emitting the dreaded blue-light that only serves to further stimulate our minds) or trying to rigidly stick to overly complicated night-time routines, wearily we are simply making what should be a basic human function all the more difficult.
For many of us, making small lifestyle or attitude adjustments should work to help us enjoy a good night’s sleep.
Here, we teamed up with the sleep experts at Tempur, to provide you with their guide to achieving the all-important goal of sleep.
1. Try to stop worrying about getting enough hours in
We’re all obsessed with sleep; how much we’re getting, whether it’s good enough, should we get black-out blinds, should we sleep in a separate bed to our partner – the worries are endless!
Understandably, the concern that we aren’t getting enough sleep is now one of the main barriers to sleep. We have become so reliant on technology that we are no longer trusting what our body is naturally telling us to do. So, try to relax and listen to your body. If you’re struggling to fall asleep, get up and move to another room, read a book or listen to a podcast or some music until you feel sleepy.
2. Avoid blue light for the 2 hours before bed
Using blue light emitting devices before bed is a sure-fire way to prevent a healthy night’s sleep. Blue light causes the body to produce less of the sleep hormone melatonin, and unfortunately exists in most devices with screens – smartphones, smart watches, tablets, televisions, e-readers and computers.
Looking at a sleep app engages your mind with blue-light emitting tech before bed, actively discouraging sleep rather than allowing your body to relax and prepare for sleep.
3. Listen to your body
Instead of counting on technology to tell you when and how to sleep, your most reliable source of information is your own body. No piece of technology can be a better determiner than yourself. Learning to recognise your body’s cues is crucial to enjoying better quality and quantity of sleep.
The golden rule is to try and go to bed at the same time every evening, but, should you feel particularly tired, stressed or run down, head to bed slightly earlier to allow your body sufficient time to rest, recuperate or recover.
4. Adjust your sleep environment
In order to enjoy a restful night’s sleep, you should also pay attention to your environment. Your body heat peaks in the evening, and then drops to its lowest levels whilst you’re asleep, so a cool 16-18°C (60-65°F) is an ideal temperature in a bedroom. Make sure the room is dark. When we see light, our bodies assume it’s awake time. When it’s dark, we release melatonin, which relaxes the body and helps us to drift off.
5. Invest in a good quality mattress that suits your needs
We spend up to a third of our lives asleep, so investing in a quality mattress can really make all the difference to your sleep quality. A good mattress will gently support your entire body while keeping your spine in a neutral position. This will not only help improve your quality of sleep – the more comfortable and supported you are, the less you will toss and turn – but will also help muscles recover overnight and alleviate any aches and pains.