Guys, we know it’s one of our favourite days of the year, but not only is today all about shamrocks and Guinness, it’s also about that (increasingly rare) thing called sleep.
Yep, today is World Sleep Day and so, knowing how hard it can be to switch off, unwind and embrace the z’s each night, we chatted to New Zealand Sleep Specialist, Dr Alex Bartle. Whether for beauty, for health or just to function as a human being, those hours you close your eyes are an essential part of your life.
And so, we bring you 20 top tips for getting a good night’s sleep.
- If there’s one routine you adopt, make it going to sleep and waking up at the same time—even on the weekend.
- Love your naps? Make sure they’re no longer than 45 minutes.
- Avoid alcohol for four hours before bedtime.
- Avoid caffeine for six hours before bedtime.
- Avoid eating heavy, sugary or spicy foods just before bedtime.
- Exercise during the day. Regular exercise increases the time you spend in deep, restorative sleep. Even just a 10-minute walk improves sleep quality.
- Use comfortable, inviting bedding. Let going to bed be a luxury rather than a chore!
- Find a comfortable sleep temperature setting and keep your room well ventilated.
- Block out distracting noise and eliminate as much light as possible.
- Reserve your bed for sleep and sex—avoid using it for work or general recreation.
- Do not use your smartphone before going to bed. The light emitted disrupts the production of melatonin, a hormone that plays an important role in sleep cycles. Ouch. That hurt.
- Do not check emails or work late in the evening as this can produce stress hormones and disrupt sleep…trust us, if it’s super important, someone will call you.
- Create a bedtime ritual and do the same things each night so it tells your body it's time to wind down.
- Spend more time in the sunlight during the day. Take your work breaks outside or move your desk closer to the window.
- If worrying or anxiety is keeping you up at night, look into stress management and relaxation techniques. There's nothing less productive than worrying at bedtime.
- If you wake in the night thinking about something, write it down on a piece of paper and fall back to sleep knowing you'll be more productive the next day after a good night's rest.
- Stop smoking before bedtime—nicotine is a stimulant and prevents you from falling to sleep.
- Keep a sleep diary to help better understand how your habits affect your sleep. Note what you did during the day and before bed, what time you went to bed, how long it took to fall asleep, how many times you woke during the night, how you felt in the morning. This will help show you where you need to make changes.
- Make sure there's enough room in your bed—it may be time to kick out your furry friends. Sorry, Max.
- Check your pillow position. Your spine and neck should be in a straight line to avoid tension and cramps that prevent you from sleeping.
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Photo credit: Jovana Rikalo