‘The best cure for insomnia is to get a lot of sleep’ – so said some chap called W.C. Fields.
Witty words from someone named after a toilet – but not exactly practical advice when you’re tossing, turning and cursing the world at 4am.
Good-quality sleep is hugely important. It makes us healthier, happier, more attractive, more emotionally resilient…and it even helps us to live longer!
But getting quality sleep seems to be increasingly difficult given the demands of the modern world, especially if you’re a mum.
Below are some of my top tips for getting a great night’s kip…
- Ban screens in your bedroom
Your bedroom should be treated like a palace of sleep. And certainly not like an office or a cinema.
Believe me, banning screens will be the best decision you ever made, whether they are laptops, tvs or smartphones. The dastardly blue light these devices all emit tricks the unevolved caveman part of your mind into thinking it’s still daylight, and therefore not time to sleep.
While checking work emails, binge-watching the latest ‘must-see’ show or refreshing your newsfeed just overstimulates your brain when it should be winding down.
Not only that, ban your partner from checking their Twitter feed in bed and chances are they’ll start redirecting that attention to someone far more deserving – like you. Bonus.
- Invest in a good mattress
The average person supposedly gets between 7–9 hours sleep a night. Which means by the time we shuffle off this mortal coil we’ll have spent a full one-third of our entire lives in bed. Jeez!
Compare that to our driving habits; on average in the UK we are said to spend just 10 hours a week in the car. Why then do we spend so much time, attention and money on our cars and not on our beds?
Far too many of us sleep on old, creaky, sagging lumps (and I’m not talking about your fella here). And as a result, many of us wake each day to back ache, neck pain and stuffy noses. That’s if we managed to fall asleep at all.
Surely a far more sensible investment is to buy a cheaper car and upgrade to a higher-quality mattress?!
Fortunately, we live in a world where the range and quality of mattresses available is quite mind boggling. If you find it all too bewildering, here’s a handy guide for you to check out.
- Eat a kiwi or two
Yep, you heard me. Gobble down a couple of these furry little fruits an hour before hitting the sack and your chances of a good night’s rest increases.
Researchers in Taiwan have found that the humble kiwi, New Zealand’s most famous export – after all those gorgeous rugby players, of course – could be the secret to a good night’s rest.
The exact science behind this isn’t yet known, but it could be something to do with the high levels of antioxidants stuffed into the potassium-rich superfruit.
- Eat early
Busy at work, busy at home – it can be hard just finding enough time to feed yourself some days. But, if you can, try to avoid eating just before you go to bed. And especially avoid big meals.
Protein-heavy meals and fatty foods especially give the digestive system a bit of a work-out. With all that churning going on in your gut, it can be a real struggle for your body to relax into sleepytimes.
So avoid the late dinners and skip the supersized suppers. Plus, try to give yourself a two-hour window between chowing down and bedding down.
Still peckish? Well then, treat yourself to one or a combination of these ‘sleep promoters’: bananas, yogurts, cherries, honey, sweet potatoes or walnuts. All have been shown to prepare you for sleep. Yum!
- Block out the light
Go up to your bedroom right now, close the curtains and turn off your lights. Go on. I’ll wait.
Now is your room pitch black? No – I didn’t think so.
Just like we do with our poorly performing mattresses, millions of us in the UK make do with curtains that frankly aren’t up to the job.
Our circadian rhythms need to be respected – and, just as bringing light-emitting screens into our bedroom can mess with our sleep, so can light pollution leaking in from the outside.
Investing in a quality set of blackout curtains or blinds can have an immediate effect on our sleep.
And if you haven’t got the money in the piggy bank for some new curtains just now, get a sleep mask instead. These aren’t just perfect for when you’re away on your jollies, they are great the entire time.
There you have it folks – five simple tips that could transform your nightmare sleep into a one-way ticket to la-la land. Give them a go, what’s the worst that could happen? You lose some sleep.