The average person spends a third of their lives sleeping yet according to recent research more than one-third of U.S. adults sleep fewer than six hours a night. This isn’t good news because a good night’s sleep goes way beyond banishing those under-eye circles. Ensuring you get a sufficient amount of sleep each night will benefit your immune system, metabolism, heart health and even improve your memory and brain functions. If you find sleep elusive or have inconsistent sleep patterns the good news is there are a few things you can do to try and get your nights back on track.
Avoid the Weekend Lie-In
If you’ve struggled to get to sleep all week and know the temptation of throwing your alarm clock against the wall in the morning, then you’ve probably savored the prospect of a lie-in at the weekend. Unfortunately, sleeping in at the weekend could be part of the reason it’s so difficult to sleep during the week. A lie-in on a Saturday morning will disrupt your body clock and therefore disrupt your sleep patterns in the long term.
The solution? Go to bed at the same time every night - even on holidays and weekends. This will train your body to use the time it has to sleep more efficiently. This means a reduction in the amount of time required to fall asleep and a better chance of feeling refreshed and rejuvenated in the morning.
A Bed is for Sleeping In
It can be hard to drag yourself out of bed in the mornings, so it’s no surprise that many of us use our beds as a secondary couch to watch TV, eat lunch or even work from. Your bed should be reserved for sleeping because by engaging in other waking-hour activities in bed it will be associated with alertness instead of triggering sleep.
Once the boundaries are set, ensure that your bed is up to standard to help you achieve a better night of sleep. If the divan is sagging, the slats are loose, or the legs/castors are broken then it’s probably game over for your bed and time to invest in a new one. Just as important is the mattress, it should be comfortable and you need to feel fully supported.
Get Some Exercise
Research indicates that people who took part in exercise four times a week went from having a poor night’s sleep to a good one. Exercise can also improve vitality and mean you’re less sleepy during the day. The good news is for those of you averse to exercise it doesn’t necessarily mean a gym membership and pummeling the treadmill for 6 hours; as little as 30 minutes moderate exercise can improve your quality of sleep.
The myth goes that exercise too close to bedtime can keep you awake. Well, it’s just that: a myth. In fact, exercising in the evening can have the opposite effect as studies show it increases the time spent in the deeper stages of sleep. If you do feel too revved up to sleep after your evening’s exercise routine, then giving yourself a sufficient amount of time to wind down should help. This could be anything that you find relaxing from a hot bath to lighting candles or trying out a few easy yoga moves.
All it requires are a few simple changes, and maybe some new daily routines and you could be nodding off in seconds each night.