How to sleep better – 12 expert tips for a successful slumber
Enjoy a deep, restorative snooze with these top tips on how to sleep better – from the experts in the know...
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Learning how to sleep better will improve your mood, health and wellness. Insufficient rest can cause our body to produce increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol, so getting a good night's sleep can improve your ability to rationalize worries and boost your mental health.
It can also help to regulate your weight, with a lack of sleep hindering your body’s ability to process insulin, meaning it’s harder to process glucose from your bloodstream, causing your body to store it as fat instead.
Sleep is a brilliant aid for your immune system, helping to fight off bugs and infections. What's more, people who don't get enough sleep are at higher risk of cardiovascular problems, such as high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, heart attacks and strokes.
Sleep expert, Kate Mikhail says: 'Given the pace of life and how much we want or need to fit into our day, people are often tempted to shave off hours from their sleep in order to add extra time to their day.
'The problem with this is that when we give ourselves less than seven hours sleep, night after night, we’re selling ourselves short on so many fronts. Our immune system takes a hit, leaving us vulnerable to both short-term and long-term health risks, as well as burnout days, we’re emotionally less resilient and our moods and mental health can struggle to remain positive.
'On top of this, studies show that we are less productive, less cognitively sharp and that we make poorer decisions when we haven’t had enough sleep.
'If you feel tired during the day, over emotional, more stressed than usual, are prone to frequent illnesses, or you fall asleep the minute your head touches the pillow – these are all signs that you’re possibly not getting the sleep your mind and body need.'
How to sleep better for a healthier, happier lifestyle
We've asked the experts to share their top tips for how to sleep better for a healthy new you.
1. Invest in the right mattress
Do not underestimate the importance of buying the best mattress for optimum sleep.
'Consider how long it has been since you last invested in your bed,' says Alison Jones, sleep expert at Sealy (opens in new tab). 'We spend roughly a third of our lives asleep, but replacing our mattress, pillows and duvets can often fall to the wayside.
'No matter your sleep position, having a comfortable and supportive mattress that is tailored to your specific needs, isn’t something that should be compromised on. For example, if back pain is keeping you awake, a mattress with Posturetech core support springs will ensure the body’s key pressure points are properly supported, helping ease any discomfort.'
And Tobin James, Sleep Ergonomics Expert at Tempur (opens in new tab), adds: 'When choosing a mattress, it’s important to consider sleep ergonomics – the support that your mattress (and pillow) provide and the position of your body whilst you sleep.
'Your mattress should adapt to you, keep your spine straight, and absorb pressure to provide relief in any painful areas of your body allowing you to enjoy restful sleep and wake feeling refreshed.
'A mattress that is too soft will cause your back or hips to slouch and your spine to fall out of alignment, whilst one that is too firm will put too much pressure on your joints causing discomfort or pain.'
If you have sorted a new mattress and still have sleep discomfort, troubleshoot the rest of your bedding too – it could be time to upgrade to the best pillow.
2. Create a serene bedroom setting
Implementing hygge – a Danish term meaning comfort and contentment – throughout your home could be the key to unlocking a peaceful night’s sleep and is a great bedroom idea, suggests Alison Jones.
She says: 'Hygge is a somewhat understated and minimalist style, with neutral earthy tones helping to achieve a casual and relaxed atmosphere.
'To create a hygge-worthy bedroom, avoid using stark and distracting colors and prints when designing and furnishing your bedroom. Instead, opt for a more muted and natural color palette filled with soft whites, dove greys, beiges and taupes, as this will help to form a strong base for an inviting bedroom – and rewarding sleep.'
3. Add soporific scents
When creating the ultimate sleep sanctuary, it's important to appeal to your sight, touch and smell.
Sealy's Alison Jones says: 'Using the best candles in your bedroom is not only visually appealing but it will also bring a gorgeous scent into the air that can help you drift off to sleep.
'Similarly, listening to the sounds of logs burning on an open fire can be incredibly relaxing, to replicate the soothing, crackling sound perfectly, accompany this with a wood wick candle.
'Alternatives to candles include essential oil diffusers, electric wax melt burners, reed diffusers and even incense sticks, which do not require an open flame.'
Lavender, bergamot and geranium scents have all been shown to help you relax.
4. Ensure you have a daily routine
'Give yourself the best chance of enjoying a peaceful slumber come night time by taking a good look at your daily routine,' advises Tobin James.
'You will struggle to sleep at the end of the day if you’re feeling restless after sitting sedentary for most of the day.
'Try some gentle morning yoga or pilates, which will help to strengthen your bones and muscles whilst also improving flexibility and posture.
'At lunchtime, take 30 minutes to enjoy a walk in the fresh air – whether you are spending your afternoon working from home, or simply enjoying an afternoon to yourself you’ll feel energised and more focused. This dose of daylight will also help regulate your circadian rhythm, helping you to sleep better come night time.'
5. Eat well and lightly before bed
As well as your routine, it’s important to consider your diet, too.
'Try to enjoy your larger meal at lunchtime and keep your evening meal light so that you’re not going to bed feeling overly full,' suggests Tobin James.
'If you can’t forego your bedtime snack, switch sugary, stodgy foods for some chopped banana with a dollop of nut butter. Both contain sleep inducing magnesium and tryptophan.'
6. Avoid caffeine and alcohol
As many of us know, consuming caffeine can have a detrimental effect on sleep, with stimulatory effects lasting up to 10 hours.
Tobin says: 'Come midday, switch to decaff tea and coffee, or choose a herbal tea infusion, to ensure you don’t feel wired at bedtime.
'Likewise, alcohol will negatively impact how peacefully we sleep. Whilst we may feel it helps us drift off quicker, it actually decreases overall sleep quality, increasing sleep disruptions and reducing how long we stay asleep for.'
By cutting caffeine for most of the day, make your morning drink a ritual by investing in the best coffee maker for a treat to look forward to when you wake up.
7. Eliminate technology before bed
'Eliminating technology before bed is a big tip for how to sleep better in 2022,' says Silentnight's sleep expert Hannah Shore.
'This means no computers, televisions, or phones. The blue light emitted by your mobile phone screen restrains the production of melatonin, the hormone that controls your sleep-wake cycle, making it harder to sleep.'
8. Have a bath or shower before bed
'If you have trouble falling asleep, a warm bath or shower one to one and a half hours before bed can help as, while your core body temperature will heat up during the bath or shower, it will cool afterwards and help with falling sleep,' says Angela Foster from Angela Foster Performance.
Stars like designer Vera Wang and Sara Blakely have shared that they incorporate a bath in their evening routine to help them clear their head and relax before bed.
To ensure this is a serene experience, take inspiration from the best bathroom ideas to create a calm and functional space.
9. Adjust your room temperature
'Setting the right temperature to help you sleep is really important,' advises Jasmin Lee, Sleep Researcher at Eachnight.
'Nearly a third of people (32%) believe they sleep better in a cool bedroom between 61–65 degrees Fahrenheit. The reason for this is because sleeping in a cool room can help your body lose heat and therefore induce sleep quicker and more easily.'
Tobin James adds: 'If you find your sleep disturbed by waking up cold during the night, try wearing a pair of socks which can assist the body’s internal temperature regulation and may also help you fall asleep faster.
'If you struggle to regulate your temperature, try using layers of bedding, like the best throw blankets, which can easily be adjusted throughout the night.'
10. Sleep in cotton and linen
'Cotton is the best material for pyjamas to sleep in because it’s soft, comfortable and lets your body breathe,' says says Jasmin Lee, Sleep Researcher at Eachnight. 'It also doesn’t weigh your body down, so it is easy to move about during the night, therefore it doesn’t wake you up unnecessarily.'
Meanwhile, linen is a lovely, sustainable bedding buy that works to regulate your body temperature, making it good for you and the planet.
11. Learn how to wind down with meditation and journaling
'One way to improve your sleep, so that you’re more productive when you wake up, is to be proactive about unwinding during the evening,' says Kate Mikhail. 'This will bring down your cortisol levels, the stress hormone that’s released with any stress spikes you experience during the day, and cortisol is one of the biggest sleep disruptors.
'Filling your evening with sleep habit cues that signal work is over can really help with this, such as a relaxing bath, or switching into loungewear (if you’re not already living in loungewear).'
Meditation has been shown to improve the length, quality and deepness of sleep by helping to switch off from busy schedules. And of journaling, Silentnight's Hannah Shore says: 'If you have a diary, log what you've done during the day or how you are feeling. This is a great way to store memories and have closure at the end of the day.'
12. Be prepared and make lists
Lists are also an efficient way to relax. Kate Mikhail says: 'Writing down problems that require a solution and/or everything that’s on tomorrow’s to-do list is a great way to empty your mind so that you’re not thinking about all this once you’re in bed.
'As with everything that shapes our sleep, it really pays dividends to know the basic science and biology taking place. In this instance, you’re moving any problems or preoccupations from your emotional amygdala to your rational, cognitive HQ, the prefrontal cortex.'
How can I sleep better at night naturally?
'Think of the bedroom environment like a cave – cool, dark and quiet, says Tempur's Tobin James.
'Our bodies naturally release melatonin when it’s dark, relaxing our muscles and helping us to drift off. This is the reason why so many of us struggle to get out of bed so early in the darker, winter months.
'Any light sneaking into the bedroom will make us feel more awake, so invest in black-out blinds or lined curtains. And depending on how sensitive you are to light, it’s worth covering any lit clock-faces or digital radios.
'Alternatively, an eye mask is a great way to block wake-inducing light whilst sleeping. In case of any night time toilet trips, use a hall plug-in light to illuminate your way without having to switch on any bright overhead lights which may trick your body into thinking its morning.
'Wear breathable cotton pyjamas that allow the body to breathe, likewise with bedding, and ideally keep the room temperature between 61–65°F.'
How can I improve my sleep?
The best ways to improve your sleep are to put a daily routine in place, create a tranquil and serene bedroom environment, buy the right mattress for you, avoid caffeine and alcohol in the hours leading up to bed time, control the bedroom temperature, and turn off the tech in the bedroom.
How do you fall asleep in five minutes?
'Unfortunately, sleep is more complex than simply curling up under a duvet – our mind and body need to be in a state of complete relaxation so establishing a wind-down routine that helps you achieve this, is key,' says Tempur's Tobin James.
'Some instantly relaxing wind-down practices include a warm lavender bath, massaging magnesium oil into tired limbs for a boost of the feel-good hormone oxytocin, a milky drink or chamomile tea, reading, or reflecting on your day by journaling. Try writing down any worries or reminders for the next day that come into your head to lift any weight and help you feel ready to shut down for the day.
'Light stretching or yin yoga is ideal before bed as it allows you to focus on slowing your breath and helping both mind and body to relax.'
Ruth Doherty is an experienced digital writer and editor specializing in interiors, travel and lifestyle. With 20 years of writing for national sites under her belt, she’s worked for the likes of Livingetc.com, Standard, Ideal Home, Stylist and Marie Claire as well as Homes & Gardens.
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