How To Get To Sleep
Sleep is an important part of our health and wellbeing. Therefore, it’s important to get the right amount of sleep during the night, helping you to function at optimal levels throughout the day.
For an adult, it’s recommended that you get between 7 to 9 hours of sleep every day, however some struggle to achieve this due to issues with drifting off. Whilst we’ve all experienced the odd night of tossing and turning in bed, for some, difficulty getting to sleep is a regular occurrence, and one that should be addressed for the sake of your health.
It’s reported that sleep latency (the time it takes you to go to sleep) normally lasts for 10 - 20 minutes from getting into bed. If you take longer that this to fall asleep, it could be a sign of underlying health issues that should be looked into.
Whilst it’s important to discuss these issues with a trained healthcare professional, there are a few tips and tricks that might help to you to drift off quicker, and subsequently achieve a better, healthier night’s rest, including the following:
- Exercise regularly.
- Take time to wind down.
- Stick to a bedtime routine.
- Improve your sleeping environment.
By introducing these healthy behaviours into your daily routine, you can help to not only improve your sleep, but further your overall health and wellbeing.
Exercise has been known to help improve your quality of sleep, relieving tension that’s built up throughout the day, and helping you to relax during periods of rest. Exercise has also been linked with helping to reduce insomnia, the Sleep Foundation stating that:
“Although the exact mechanisms are unknown, there are many possibilities for how exercise may reduce insomnia severity. One way may be by the body-heating effects of exercise, especially when performed in the afternoon or later. Exercise triggers an increase in body temperature, and the post-exercise drop in temperature may promote falling asleep. Exercise may also reduce insomnia by decreasing arousal, anxiety and depressive symptoms.”
Whilst exercise has been linked with helping to better sleep quality, doing this too close to your bedtime may have the exact opposite effect and keep you awake. Therefore, it might be best to exercise earlier during the day to avoid this becoming an issue.
Take Time to Wind Down
Taking the time to wind down before bed can be of great benefit in helping you drift off, promoting relaxation and calm. There are a range of different ways you can wind down before bed, including the following:
- Plan your day for tomorrow – it might help to write down a plan for the next day to help clear your mind from distractions, assuring that everything you need to do for the next day has already been planned out.
- Yoga – doing some light yoga specifically geared towards relaxation and sleep can help you to relax and calm down before bedtime.
- Take a bath – this can help you to reach a relaxing body temperature, ideal for winding down to rest.
- Guided relaxation meditation – listening to a guided meditation can help you to further relax and enter a calming state of mind, optimal for drifting off to sleep.
You might also enjoy reading a book or listening to the radio to wind down. It’s important to avoid using phones or other types of electronics before going to bed (e.g. the TV or laptop), as the light they emit from their screens can have a detrimental impact on your sleep.
Stick to a Bedtime Routine
Having regular sleeping hours can help to regulate your sleeping routine, encouraging your brain and internal body clock to get used to a set bedtime. All of this can also help make it easier to drift off.
As previously mentioned, most adults will need 7 to 9 hours of sleep a day. By working out what time you have to be awake for the next day, you can help to set the best time to go to sleep the night before, and stick to this to help get your body used to falling asleep at this time.
As is the same with falling asleep, it’s also important that you wake up at the same time regularly. Snoozing past your normal wake-up time can disrupt the sleeping routine.
Improve You Sleeping Environment
The environment you sleep in can play a major role in how you drift off, and furthermore your sleep quality. You can help to optimise your bedroom for sleep in a number of different ways, including the following:
- Keep your bedroom at an optimal temperature (between 18C to 24C).
- Shut out distracting lights and noises.
- Keep your bedroom tidy.
- Invest in comfortable pillows, sheets, blankets and a mattress.
To find out more on how to make your bedroom the optimal environment for sleep read our piece on how to optimise your bedroom for sleep.