Weâ€™ve all had those nights where we get into bed, turn off the light and instead of pleasant dreams and a faultless slumber, we toss and turn and lay awake for hours. If youâ€™ve ever thought why this could be, itâ€™s likely a combination of factors before bedtime that are hindering a healthy sleep.
Switch Off the Screens
Computers. TVs. Phones. iPads. Homes today are full of bright and shiny distractions. It can be tempting to watch ‘just one more episode’ or play ‘one last level’ before bed, yet experts say that this is hugely counter-productive to sleep. The main reason is cognitive stimulation, meaning a stressful, bright and noisy videogame for example, can release a stress hormone in your brain called cortisol. This, along with your neurons firing and increased body tension, all add to blocking sleep from arriving when you eventually lay your head down.
Furthermore, the glow from TVs and phones can travel through your retina and into the hypothalamus, which controls sleep activity in your brain. The bright light can ‘trick’ your mind into thinking itâ€™s actually daytime and interrupt the sleep-inducing hormone called melatonin.
Improve Your Sleeping Position
Neck or back pain is certainly no friend to a good nightâ€™s rest. If you suffer from these, it could just be down to your mattress or pillow quality, yet there are a few tips for better sleeping positions. For example, placing an extra pillow either under your knees (for back sleepers), beneath your pelvis (for stomach sleepers), or between your knees with your legs drawn to your chest (for side sleepers), can all take pressure from off your back and help to maintain a natural curve on your spine.
A memory foam pillow from Ikea will help to mold to the shape of your neck, and wonâ€™t overheat your body either â€“ a major contributor to a restless sleep. As for mattresses, there are even companies such as Eve that allow you to try out a mattress for 100 days, giving you time to truly know if that particular mattress is right for you.
Watch Your Food and Drink Before Bed
Caffeine or too much alcohol before sleeping are obvious beverages to avoid, but itâ€™s also important not to go to bed feeling thirsty, full or hungry. Doing any of these will distract your body and mind and result in you lying awake for much longer. So for a good rest in general, wait a little while after eating or drinking, choose quality products to sleep on, and turn off any bright screens at least 15 to 30 minutes before bed.