Secrets of a Great Night’s Sleep



Did you know that a lack of sleep adversely affects your higher-brain functions, your immune system, digestion, growth hormones, mood and sex drive? Any one of those things would be worth looking after – but all of them?! Well! It seems important to us, so this update helps you get the sleep you need…

How much sleep do you need? Alas, there is no magic number we can tell you! Your sleep needs are affected by age, activity, environment, and a whole host of factors. But the “Eight-hours” figure still gets bandied about a lot because it’s about right for a large number of people! If you feel that your sleep could be better, though, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by trying some of these tips and seeing how much better you feel!

We’ll start with the dullest of tips! It’s dull because most people already know it and don’t necessarily want to do it! But a consistent routine helps you sleep better. It’s as simple as that! Almost anyone who repeatedly goes to bed and wakes up at the same times, following the same habits, already knows that this works tremendously. That’s because the human brain loves patterns! So you might start getting up at the same time on the weekend, for example, and develop the habit of always reading a book before settling down – reading is ideal, incidentally, since it gently tires the eyes and brain.

One thing and the other: Now, because your brain instinctively wants to create simple patterns, it prefers not to associate one location with numerous activities… You can imagine, though, how many people use their beds to check emails, eat, drink, watch TV, talk on the phone and update Facebook! But to improve your sleep, it’s important to use your bed only for your sleeping routine and the unmentionable! That way your brain pretty much knows what it’s supposed to be doing from the moment you get into bed.

Comfy-cosy: A good number of people seem to overlook the physical aspects of their bedroom. It should be a relaxing environment when lit, and completely dark when not. Maintain a consistent temperature – somewhat on the cool side – and ensure the room has good ventilation. Finally, make sure your bed is big enough and that the mattress and pillows are comfy, too.

Stay Awake Tablets: Smart phones, TV sets and information tablets are – in sleep terms – all just sources of light… Light to which our brains are surprisingly sensitive! Stop using all that malarkey about an hour before going to sleep.

Clock off! Have you ever spent part of the night looking at the clock, then worrying that you need to get to sleep?! For some, this starts a bizarre little dance of fixation… Well, continuously looking at the clock won’t help! Swap your clock for one you can’t see when the lights are out. Alternatively, turn it around so that you can’t see the digits.

Hot and Cool: If you’ve noticed yourself feeling sleepy after a hot bath, you may want to know why! It’s because, just before you fall asleep, your body temperature drops quite naturally. So if – just before bed – you take a hot bath, it forces your body temperature up… And the subsequent, quite rapid drop in temperature beautifully triggers the sleeping process!

Rock the Socks: This tip also takes advantage of the way your body naturally functions! It seems that, as you nod off, the blood flow to your feet increases… But because wearing socks in bed also increases the blood flow to your feet, you can help induce sleep very simply by wearing socks in bed!

Bedtime drink: We’ve been given a recipe for a bedtime drink which entirely comprises ingredients that are believed to help aid restful sleep! What’s more it tastes pretty good… Thoroughly warm a mug of milk, then add a teaspoon of runny honey. Stir well and continue to do so as you add a few threads of saffron. Finally, add a dusting of nutmeg… And drink!

Occupy your mind: A lot of people say that they, “Can’t switch off at night” and give this as a reason for struggling to get to sleep. Actually, the exact opposite is true: they aren’t switching on the creative part of their brain when they need to! So here’s one daft, clever and effective way to trigger sleep…

Noah’s Ark: This childishly simple technique engages your creative mind in a marginally taxing game… Imagine yourself in the role of Noah, sending animals onto the Ark in alphabetical order… Think of an animal beginning with ‘A’ and imagine a pair of them walking up the gangplank and into the Ark. Now think of a pair of animals from a species that begins with ‘B’ and send them off… Continue in this way; you might be surprised how quickly you doze off!