Getting a good night’s sleep leaves you alert, switched on and ready to go in the morning. Research shows that missing even 20 minutes sleep can lead to a big decline in performance the next day; but many of us struggle to get even close to the 8 hours recommended by doctors!
Well first things first it turns out that the 8 hour guideline is outdated. Long term research conducted by Arizona State University has shown that the healthiest people sleep between 6.5 and 7.4 hours a night, a little less than the guidelines – but still unattainable for some.
Long term sleep deprivation can have permanent effects on your brain’s ability to store and organise information and is also linked with stress, diabetes and heart disease. Sleep isn’t something you can afford to cut down on – missing it persistently will make you groggy, not to mention ill.
Even if you do have enough time for a good night’s sleep interruptions and insomnia can make the night uncomfortable and only minimally restful. There are some easy ways to improve your sleep, starting with your mattress. Memory foam mattresses adjust to your natural sleeping position and can minimise aches and pains. Even if you don’t want to shell out for that, a mattress without broken springs, which supports your back properly, can do wonders.
Consider buying bed and mattress sets together, to prevent overhang or sagging which can ruin your posture, and Bedstar are currently offering a sale on a lovely range of upholstered Ottoman beds, with plenty of storage space underneath.
Plenty of food and drink is also known to promote sleep, and including some in your diet has been shown to boost natural sleep. On the other hand alcohol (particularly red wine), caffeine and spicy foods can all inhibit sleep.
Tart cherry juice is a very rich source of an amino acid named tryptophan and a hormone, melatonin. Both of these act to promote sleep and recent studies have shown drinking a glass a day can boost sleep by almost an hour per night. Many other fruits and nuts like walnuts, almonds, pineapples and many dark vegetables contain melatonin which is also naturally synthesised by your body when it is dark.
Seafood is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acid which promotes brain health and is linked with more regular sleeping patterns. If omega-3 supplements aren’t to your taste a nice cup of herbal tea might help you get settled for bed – valerian tea has naturally sedative properties.
Finally, though it might go without saying, try to block extraneous light and sound from your room. If you live near a road, or are disturbed by the sunrise, consider getting some heavy duty blinds to stop the later part of your sleep being disturbed. Sleeping in a cooler (but not cold) room is also shown to be most effective for deep sleep, so try adjusting accordingly.