Sleep is a funny thing. Science still isn’t one hundred percent sure what exactly our body does when we’re in the land of nod, but we can all agree on one thing – we need sleep, ideally between 7-9 hours a night. For some people, this is easy; some of us though have a little more trouble catching the train to slumberland. Here’s how you can give yourself the best chance possible.
Eliminate pre-bed blue light
We know you love technology – we all do. And even when we don’t love it (we’re looking at you Windows Updater) we still have to use it. The thing is though, our electronics give off a blue light which really confuses our circadian rhythms (that’s our body clock if you’re more of a mechanic than a musician). This means that your pre-sleep binge session of Love Island is doing more than making you want to go on holiday, it’s also throwing off your sleep.
Fortunately, this is a fairly common complaint which electronics companies are trying to fiz. For computers we have f.lux, a free download that slowly changes your screen colour as the sun sets and rises – giving it a nice orange glow in the evenings. On mobile, Twilight does the same for Android and iPhones now have the feature built in.
Busy, busy, busy; we’re all so busy. How can we have time to relax when we don’t even have time to sleep? It’s a conundrum. But if you’re spending hours struggling to get to sleep, just take a little step back from the situation. Taking just 30 minutes of that time to wind down – have a bath, do some meditation, or write a journal – will help you drift off. Either you end up getting more sleep, or you end up getting the same amount but with a pleasant extra bit of chill time. What’s the worst that could happen.
Like it hot? Well, your mind might, but your body sure doesn’t. Bedtime is a time to power down the engines and let yourself cool off for a bit. While 20-22 degrees celsius is a comfortable room temperature for daytime you, your sleeping doppelganger prefers 16-18 degrees.
How you keep the temperature constant can be a different problem, ensuring your room is well insulated is a good start – make sure there’s no drafts sneaking in through your windows and doors, or if it’s too warm make sure to crack open a window.
Stick to a routine
More or less everyone has a routine of some sort, our bodies like it that way. Routines help us get through life. Alarm clocks are the most common way of keeping a routine. Though it doesn’t feel like it, that buzzing and burring that we’ve all learnt to hate is an important part of our lives.
You’ve already got the worst part of the routine, why not add an alarm that makes you happy – a sleep alarm. Just a gentle reminder to go to bed at the appropriate time. Once you get into the habit, your body will follow suit and you’ll be out before your light.
Block out all light
Remember the circadian rhythm we mentioned earlier? It isn’t just electronics that can play havoc with it, so can sunlight. In fact sunlight is the main controller of our circadian rhythms. Due to the rigours of daily life, most of us can’t fall to sleep and rise with the sun’s patterns, but we can do the next best thing – we can control the sun! Well, we can control the sun’s light from entering our rooms at least.
Even a little light can be enough to make your sleep a nightmare, especially in those summer months where the sun is an early riser. Heavy curtains, blackout blinds, and layered window furnishings can ensure that your room is dark enough for you to get a decent kip. By blocking out the sun, you can make sure your nights are restful even well into the summer months.
Sleep is a very personal thing. How one person reacts to things can differ wildly from the next. Individually, these tips might not seem like they are that effective to you. But together, they can give you the best chance possible of a good night’s sleep.