We’ve all heard it before: get at least eight hours of sleep for a good night’s rest.
But with endless to-do lists swimming around our minds, the temptation of “just one last look” at Facebook, and little people jumping on our heads first thing in the morning, this is easier said than done.
However, if you take these steps you can make those elusive eight hours of peaceful slumber a reality.
1. Stick to your bedtime
Go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day, even at the weekends. Trying to catch up on sleep at the weekends can actually have a reverse effect on the body, and make you feel more tired when Monday rolls around.
2. Relax and unwind
It happens to the best of us: you’re tired all day long, but when it comes to bedtime, you’re wide awake. Be sure to establish a relaxing bedtime routine where you unwind and prepare your body for sleep. Do something calming like taking a bath, reading or listening to chill-out music.
Also when you’re getting ready for bed, give yourself a mini-massage to relax any tensions. Use a rich night cream on your face, such as Olay Regenerist 3 Point Age-Defying Night Cream, for a gentle night-time facial.
3. Make a sleep haven
Create an environment that promotes sleep: one that is quiet, dark, cool and comfortable. Fresh sheets, plump pillows and black-out shades should do the trick.
When it comes to decorating, make sure the colours in your room are soft and mellow to help calm the mind; the bedroom is not the place to express your love of fuchsia.
4. Use scent to soothe you
Certain smells have been proven to relax and lower the heart rate, so it’s a great idea (you might even say it “makes scents”) to fill your bedroom with these fragrances.
Available as a room diffuser, air mist, bedside diffuser, or bedding refresher, they eliminate odours and fill the bedroom with a long-lasting, relaxing fragrance that doesn’t overpower, helping you to drift into a sweet-smelling slumber.
5. Get some morning sunshine
According to the National Sleep Foundation, getting sun exposure in the morning for at least 30 minutes will cue your body clock to induce sleep at the right time of night.
So if the sun is shining (there’s always hope), be sure to enjoy your breakfast al-fresco, which will do wonders for your mood, too.
6. Avoid daytime naps
If you sleep well, you shouldn’t need to nap anyway, but if you’re really struggling without your 40 winks, set an alarm for a max of 60 minutes.
If you sleep any longer your body will start its deep sleep cycle and you’ll wake up feeling groggy. Plus you’ll have trouble falling asleep at the appropriate time later.
7. Switch off, literally
The stimuli of electronics will keep your mind active and prevent your body from switching into sleep mode. Even if you manage to tear yourself away from Facebook, the blue light emitted from a charging phone or tablet is enough to keep the brain stimulated.
Switch your gadget off completely or plug it in to charge on the other side of the room. This will also help you to wake up in the morning as you have to get out of bed to switch your phone alarm off.
8. Tire yourself out
If you have a sedentary job where you’re planted behind a desk, make sure you go for a walk at lunch time and do something active in the evening, such as playing sport or with the kids in the garden. If you’ve had an active day, by the time bedtime comes your body will be ready to rest and recover.
If you can only fit in a workout close to your bedtime, try a relaxing exercise such as Pilates, yoga or tai chi.
9. Drink a calming nightcap
Avoid drinking caffeinated drinks such as coffee, tea and soft drinks. Caffeine-free herbal tea or warm milk are great options prior to bedtime. For more ideas try these three simple drinks to help you sleep.
10. Avoid a full – or empty – stomach
Don’t eat heavy meals late at night as, not only will you feel uncomfortable, but your body will need to work overtime digesting your food when it should be working on rest and repair.
If you’re hungry before bed, have a light, healthy snack like a banana or a small bowl of muesli.
11. Clear your mind of clutter
Why is it that, as soon as your head hits the pillow, everything from tomorrow’s to-do list to how you’re going to handle your mother-in-law next weekend suddenly swarms your brain?
To drift off to sleep you need to clear your mind. One neat trick is to think back to a house you lived in or visited when you were younger. Go through it in your mind: recalling the front door, where the rooms were, what they looked like – go into as much detail as you can.
Thanks to the low level of concentration you need for this task, your mind will focus, and you’ll probably be sound asleep by the time you reach the living room.
Do you have any tips for a great night’s sleep? Leave your suggestions in the comments section below.