It’s the season for a sleep check

Last Updated: March 28, 2023 This post was written by Clive Price

Changing the clocks may have sounded the alarm for us all to check our sleep hygiene.

In the wake of the spring equinox – when we’ve just put the clocks forward one hour – information and advice service Independent Living have shared some top tips for a good night’s sleep.

It’s an opportunity to make sure we’re getting enough sleep

Whether we welcome this season for heralding lighter evenings – or curse it for shortening our time in bed – it provides an opportunity to make sure we’re getting enough sleep to maintain good health.

Independent Living point out that during sleep, our bodies get a chance to restore and repair themselves.

Hormones are triggered to enable tissue growth which can help you recover from cuts, grazes and even sore muscles. To get a good sleep pattern, Independent Living recommend:

• wear blue light glasses – these help counteract the effect of blue light-emitting screens, leading to better sleep;

• more exercise – a regular routine of exercise helps you sleep better. Try and build exercise time into your daily routine;

• eat well – a healthy, varied diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables and whole grains contributes to better sleep;

• cut down caffeine and alcohol – caffeinated and alcoholic drinks can hinder sleep, so try not to consume them in the evening;

• afternoon naps are good, as long as they’re short – if you favour a siesta, take no longer than 20 minutes;

• invest in a good quality bed – we spend around a third of our lives in bed, so it’s worth investing in a really comfortable bed and mattress;

• essential oils may help – although they don’t work for everybody or all the time, lavender and marjoram are both recommended;

• take a bath before bed – a relaxing soak in warm, not hot, water can help you relax and wind down;

• keep your bedroom cool – you won’t sleep if it’s too warm, aim for 18° C;

• ban electronic devices – many of us love our tablets and smartphones, but taking them to bed will make it even harder to fall asleep;

• remove disruptive pets – animals may need to be excluded from the bedroom if they disturb you;

• darken the room – blackout curtains at the window or a lightweight eye mask are both effective;

• sup a milky drink – bit of an old wives’ tale, but still seems to work for some people despite the supposed science being debunked;

Think positive thoughts if anxiety keeps you awake

• take herbal remedies – valerian, hops and chamomile all have their adherents;

• think positive thoughts if anxiety keeps you awake – tell yourself you are well and safe. Focus on what you are grateful for and what you’ve enjoyed during the day;

• practise simple mindfulness techniques – mindful breathing, awareness of your body, deliberately stepping back from your thoughts, can all help ease you into sleep;

• get up straightaway – having another ten minutes doze when the alarm goes in the morning leaves you feeling more tired than if you got up quickly.