Essential Sleep Tips - The Basics

Essential Sleep Tips - The Basics

Essential Sleep Tips - The Basics

Quality sleep is fundamental to all aspects of life.

Some simple yet effective strategies can significantly improve sleep patterns, sleep quality and thus your overall health. Below are some sleep tips and habits that anyone can benefit from, in no particular order.


1. Manage Evening Stimulants:

Avoiding stimulants, such as caffeine or energy drinks, in the afternoon and evening is crucial, particularly if you tend to sleep later. Consuming coffee or energy drinks even as early as 2pm can inhibit adenosine receptors from receiving important “go to sleep” signals, leading to difficulties falling asleep and can be a cause of insomnia.

2. Prioritise Sleep Quantity:

Consistency is key. Aim for a consistent sleep schedule throughout the week, including work days and days off. Allowing yourself a day of uninterrupted sleep can serve as a reset, aiding in bodily repair and bolstering resilience against illnesses. It's essential also to maintain a regular bedtime routine even after an extended sleep to promote the body's rejuvenation process. Note: Being active during the day vastly improves sleep drive and sleep quality. 

3. Minimise Distractions:

Eliminating disruptive noises, such as the buzz of electronic devices, helps to establish a more natural sleep environment. Opt for calming ambient sounds or nature tracks that can help induce a peaceful state conducive to restful sleep. For instance, utilising applications or YouTube playlists that offer continuous soothing sounds throughout the night can contribute to a more relaxing sleep experience. Avoid white light after sunset; opt for smart lamps that can give off red light instead of white. Red light interferes less with production of melatonin. 

4. Make Your Bed a Haven:

Consistently making your bed daily can significantly impact your sleep experience. A tidy and welcoming bed promotes a sense of comfort and relaxation. Additionally, keeping your sleeping space clutter-free prevents any discomfort or disturbance when getting into bed at night.

5. Wind Down Before Bed:

Transitioning into sleep requires a gradual winding-down process. Avoid heavy meals or engaging in mentally stimulating activities close to bedtime. Opt for decaffeinated beverages and engage in calming activities, such as reading a book, taking a warm bath, or practising relaxation techniques like deep breathing, yoga, mindfulness or meditation to encourage production of relaxing neurotransmitters and set your mind into a calm state. 

6. Limit Stimulating Activities:

Steer clear of high-dopamine and distracting activities, especially within a couple of hours of your intended sleep time. These activities, such as intense gaming sessions or scrolling through stimulating content on social media, can hinder your brain's ability to relax and prepare for sleep. That said, it can be highly beneficial to unwind after a stressful day at work with something stimulating and engaging, given you have enough time to begin your relaxation-sleep-routine afterwards. This is often coined “sleep hygiene”. 

7. Set Communication Boundaries:

Communicate your designated 'offline' hours to contacts, roommates or even your spouse to ensure an effective relaxation period before going to bed. Mute non-urgent notifications, opt for an alarm-clock over a mobile phone so you can switch it off at night to resist the urge to check the time, social media, emails etc. 

8. Exercise for Better Sleep:

Regular physical activity contributes significantly to improved sleep quality. Experiment with different exercise intensities and timings to find the routine that best suits your body. For example, moderate-intensity exercises earlier in the day may promote better sleep compared to vigorous exercises right before bedtime. Regardless of when you exercise, as you get fitter, your sleep quality will get “fitter” too. 

9. Maintain Clean Sleeping Conditions:

Clean and fresh bedding is helpful for a welcoming sleep environment. Regularly washing sheets and pillowcases prevents discomfort caused by allergens or accumulated dirt, promoting better sleep hygiene. Also take note of the bedding you use. For example, cotton sheets with a lower thread count will be more breathable than those with a higher thread count. This can be especially important for people on medications that can make them sweat more throughout the night. A high quality quilt can make all the difference too; opt for something that is weighty and lofty but does not cause you to overheat. 

10. Food Before Bed:

Allowing at least three hours for digestion before lying down helps prevent sleep-disrupting indigestion. This can vary considerably from person to person, and some people tend to find a big meal closer to bedtime can actually help them fall asleep faster. This is again variable on the type of food you eat also. Some sleep helping foods include pasta, whole grain cereal, oats, bananas, kiwi fruit, eggs, broccoli, almonds, avocados and even pineapple.

11. Reflect and Unwind:

Dedicate a few minutes before bedtime to quiet reflection or engaging in a calming task, such as journaling, reading or light stretching. This practice assists your brain in processing the day's events and helps you relax. 

12. Optimal Sleeping Environment:

Maintain a cool room temperature during sleep hours and an hour before bedtime. Lower temperatures signal the body that it's time for rest, facilitating a deeper and more restorative sleep. No white light after sunset, opt for a smart light that can automatically turn red or dim orange around 8pm, for example. Keep your bedroom clean and organised. This has various psychological benefits, in terms of sleep, again boils down to feeling calm, feeling relaxed. 

13. Value Sleep's Importance:

Recognize the critical role of adequate sleep in cognitive function and overall well-being. Prioritising sleep over late-night cramming sessions, especially for students preparing for exams, significantly aids in information retention and cognitive performance. If you need to cram study, or cram essay-write, if at all possible, you will do far better getting an early night and setting an early alarm for you to start your work after you’ve slept. Your brain has gone through incredible healing processes after you’ve slept, you’ll be able to think much more clearly and remember things more easily. 

14. Sleep Position:

One, defect, one could argue, is how crowded and relaxed our nasopharynx and oral structure becomes while we sleep. This is what causes snoring and other respiratory sleep disorders. Roughly 45 to 50% of people snore to some extent, which can lead to decreased sleep quality. If this is you, avoid sleeping on your back. Opt instead to sleep on your left side primarily, or your right side if you can't sleep on your left. If you are a back sleeper, you may have to prop up your back so your sleeping slightly upright (by at least 15 degrees or so). 

15. Other Critical Factors to Note!

If you’re struggling with sleep, the problems and causes can be vast. While the above tips will help anyone improve their sleep, specific sleep issues must be addressed on a case-to-case basis. Sleepco does offer one-on-one guidance for sleep related issues, so feel free to reach out. Otherwise, narrow down on the cause of your sleep disturbance and try to research a solution to fix the cause.

That may be easier said than done, while sometimes, just as easily done as said! For example, let’s say you’re a light sleeper. If you have a spouse that moves around often at night time, your sleep is going to be fragmented and of poor quality. In this instance, separate bed bases and mattresses can significantly reduce movement disruption. Or if your spouse snores, earplugs could be the answer.

A final note on snoring; there are plenty of ways to reduce or even eradicate snoring entirely. We’ll assess this in a different post. That’s it for now! I hope you find some of these tips helpful and they improve the quality of your sleep. Sweet dreams.


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