Five things you can do today to improve your sleep tonight

Sleep is vitally important. Both for our mental and physical health. Though sleep needs vary from person to person, most adults require between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night. In 1942, 8 hours of sleep per night was the norm - however now, people are getting an average of 6.8 hours.

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Why does getting enough sleep matter?

Research has proven the severe impact of sleep deprivation. In fact, it’s estimated that lack of sleep costs the US economy $411 Billion each year and the UK a hefty $50 Billon.

That’s the bad news. But here’s the good news.

Research has consistently shown that there is a lot we can do to improve our ability to achieve a good night’s sleep. The key to achieving this is the benefit of what is known as sleep hygiene or a sleep schedule. This is a list of five activities and routines that, if maintained regularly, have been proven to enhance the quality of our sleep.

1. Regular bedtime  

Although it can be difficult to change our sleep pattern, research has consistently shown that the most effective way to improve the pattern and quality of our sleep is to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. 

2. Exercise

Exercise in its many forms has an overwhelmingly positive effect on our overall sleep pattern. On average, people who exercise regularly will fall asleep more quickly, sleep more and wake fewer times in the night. The benefit of improved sleep from exercise also has the effect of improving our physical and mental performance the next day in whatever it is we do. However, it is not advisable to exercise too close to your bedtime. Your metabolism will be higher after physical exertion so try not to exercise for two to three hours before bed.

3. Eliminate caffeine and alcohol

Many of our favourite drinks can contain the stimulant caffeine. Coffee is an obvious one, but fizzy drinks such as coke and certain teas can contain relatively high levels of caffeine. The effects of caffeine can take up to eight hours to fully wear off. Therefore, a cup of coffee in the late afternoon can make it harder for you to fall asleep at night. Try to avoid alcohol before bed.  

Alcohol may help you to relax and fall asleep but the sedative effects quickly wear off and you are more likely to wake up in the middle of the night. Alcohol also keeps you in the light stage of sleep and prevents you from entering the essential stages of REM and Deep Sleep. This inability to cycle through your natural sleep cycle can result in you feeling tired due to a lack of restorative and refreshing sleep.

4. Reduce blue light

For reasons of safety, early humans evolved to be active during the day when it was light and to rest and sleep at night when it was dark and dangerous outside. Your brain responds to the onset of darkness by producing a sleep-inducing chemical called melatonin. The morning light reduces the production of Melatonin, and so we wake up naturally. This is our natural 24-hour sleep-wake cycle, also known as our circadian rhythm. Unfortunately, in our modern environment, the natural production of Melatonin is interrupted by artificial light.

Electric light and the light from computers, laptops, TVs and our phones produces what is known as blue light. Blue light is interpreted by our brain as sunlight and stops the production of melatonin. Reducing the amount of blue light from all sources in the evening will help the natural production of melatonin to occur and this will help you to fall asleep naturally. Switch off your phone, TV’s, laptops and other devices and try to keep lights as low as possible for at least an hour before bed.

5. Keep your bedroom dark and cool

The ideal environment in which to fall asleep is one that is dark and cool. Your body temperature naturally drops just prior to sleep, so if your bedroom is too warm this will reduce your ability to fall asleep.

Electronic devices not only produce blue light which replicates sunlight, but they can also be distracting which can, in turn, reduce the opportunity for your mind to relax in preparation for sleep. Keeping your room cool, dark and gadget-free will condition your brain to think of your bedroom as the place and time for sleep.   

Hypnotherapy Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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Liverpool, Merseyside, L26
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Written by Joe Forshaw, BA Psych (Hons), PG Cert, DSFH, MAfSFH (REG), MCHNC (REG)
Liverpool, Merseyside, L26

JWith a BA Hons in Psychology/ Sociology and a Post-Grad certificate in Criminology, Joe Forshaw has had a life-long passion for mental health and the importance of it. After studying and researching various therapies, Joe decided Solution Focused Hypnotherapy achieved the most effective results.

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