We all know that getting a solid eight hours’ sleep a night is good for us, right? It’s the key to being productive, alert and in good health. But just how many of us are achieving it?
Not many, if surveys are to be believed. Research published last year showed that 28million of us Brits aren’t getting any more than seven hours’ sleep a night. That’s millions of us lying in bed clock-watching and not being on our best form the following day. Sleep is especially important as exams are approaching – you might think that staying up all night cramming with a sugar-loaded energy drink for company is a good idea, but it’s anything but. If you get your eight hours in and get up at a reasonable time (pre-9am – sorry guys), you’ll be much more productive during the day.
If you’re struggling for some slumber, here’s a few clever things you can try to get some much-needed shut eye.
If you’ve had a stressful day, chances are, you’re not going to sleep as well at night. If your mind is whirring, you’ll have trouble nodding off. So make the time to get into a nice, calming bedtime routine. A warm bath or hot shower, into your jammies then have a nice hot drink and some TV or reading time before bed. The routine helps your body wind down and prepare for bed too, rather than leaping straight under your duvet after a manic day.
Ditch the caffeine
Some of us are fuelled by coffee and energy drinks, but while these might give you the energy you need to go through they day, they could be ruining your sleep patterns. A good night’s sleep will be much more beneficial than the temporary buzz you get from caffeine. Switch it for water or fruit juice and you’ll soon see the difference.
Put down your phone
One of the major reasons why we as a nation are struggling to sleep is down to technology. Nine out of 10 young people expose themselves to the ‘blue light’ emitted by smartphones before bed, which causes problems with sleep and can damage your eyes. Yikes. We’re all guilty of it – a quick Facebook check, a witty tweet, a pre-bed selfie for your Instagram followers. It’s hard to put your phone down. But with exams approaching, maybe it’s time we ditched our gadgets. Set yourself a cut off time an hour before bed, then hide your phone if necessary. Grab a book or a magazine before bedtime instead – it’s more likely to give you that sleepy feeling than the bright light given off by your gadgets.
Certain smells can trigger responses in the brain, and lavender’s the one to go for if you want to head for snoozeville. Research has shown that your granny’s favourite scent reduces feelings of anxiety – one of the biggest reasons many of us can’t sleep in the first place. You can go for some lavender essential oil, available in most good pharmacies, or if you’re feeling flush, check out This Works’ sleep range – the pillow spray (£16, Boots) smells fantastic. And 83% of people say it helps them get to sleep faster too. Clean sheets can really help too.
OK, so we said no phones, but there are some apps that can help which don’t cost a fortune and don’t require you staring at the screen for hours. There are heaps of different meditation and mindfulness apps available on the App Store and Google Play, some of which for free. Start searching for calming ocean-inspiring music to play gently in your dock or headphones to help you drift off to sleep.
If you get into good habits before bedtime now, you’ll be set up for life. No one likes a grouch – so make sure you get enough sleep and you’ll soar through your day.