A Good Night’s Sleep Is Worth More To Your Wellbeing Than A Pay Rise
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New research has found that sleep and sex are more important to Brits than cars, money and holidays.
Sainsbury's 'Living Well Index' looks at modern-day stress and found that people rank a solid 8 hour zzz and a good sex life as having 'a greater impact on wellbeing than money'.
Family, friends and job security were also ranked above materialistic items like cars and holidays.
The poll of 8,250 people was carried out by experts at Oxford Economics and the National Centre for Social Research and found that the average Briton has a Living Well score of 62.2 out of 100. Not bad.
So sleep is once more hailed for it's wellbeing qualities And yet, simply being female can makes us more likely to suffer from insomnia and despair over how to sleep better. Sigh.
Are you struggling to sleep? You may not struggle with insomnia but unfortunately anxiety, the hormonal fluctuations of our menstrual cycle, pregnancy and menopause can also affect sleep.
If you spend most nights listening to podcasts and googling 'how to sleep better', fear not. We met up with sleep expert Dr Guy Meadows to bring you his top ten tips for how to get to sleep and stay there.
1. PUT YOUR PHONE AWAY
“I’ll just check my Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / email / eBay before bed…” Sound familiar? Step AWAY from the iPhone.
Try to avoid using any electrical devices 30-45 minutes before your bedtime, and definitely not in bed.
Your brain connects the light emitted from the screen to that of the sun, and continues to release your waking hormones. Swap that episode of for reading a copy of your favourite magazine instead. Ahem.
2. HAVE A BED TIME
Try to go to bed at roughly the same time every night, and get up at the same time each morning (yes, that does include weekends…)
It might not seem to make sense, but if you do go to bed later, still try to wake at the same time, otherwise your ‘drive’ for sleep the following night will be disrupted.
You may well find yourself lying in bed wondering how to fall alseep!
3. PRACTISE SLEEP HYGEINE
Quiet, dark, cool, uncluttered. You might have to deal with that laundry pile in the corner but try to treat your bedroom as your very own ‘cave’.
Use subdued lighting in the run-up to your bedtime, keep the curtains tightly drawn and open the window a smidge to regulate temperature.
Earplugs are effective against snoring partners and screaming sirens. All of this combine will create a better environment to help you sleep better.
4. INDULGE IN A PILLOW SPRAY
Scents have been proven to have a calming effect.
Try lighting a scented candle whilst you get ready for bed, sprinkling essential lavender oil on your pillow, or spritz the air with a soothing fragrance.
5. QUIT THE STIMULANTS
No we're this isn't an HR issue. We're talking about coffee. That 5pm espresso might have seemed worth it when you were on deadline earlier, but when your mind is still racing at 1am, you might want to re-think.
Gauge your own sensitivity to caffeine but try switching to a herbal or caffeine-free brew from the mid-afternoon.
Coffee has a five-six hour half life, that means it oculd be 12 hours before it's all out of your system – that's a long time to wait for a good night's sleep.
Also, booze… You met your deadline! Time to celebrate with a glass or two of vino right? Keep your eye on the clock. It takes an hour to metabolise one unit of alcohol, and if you body is still focusing on this when you go to bed, it isn’t focusing on sending you to sleep.
6. INVEST IN A GOOD MATTRESS
It might seem obvious, but make sure that your bed is comfortable. We spend a third of our lives in bed, so a new mattress could be a worthwhile investment. Alternatively get a mini workout flipping and rotating it!
7. BANISH THE SNOOZE BUTTON
The snooze button. We’ve all been there, but whilst snoozing in the morning might feel like an indulgence, you’ll actually wake up feeling groggier.
Just treat yourself to setting the alarm 15 minutes later instead.
8. DON'T OBSESS OVER THOSE 8 MAGIC HOURS
Remember that we are all different. Whilst 7-8 hours is the average for most people, anything between 6-10 is normal. Try to find your own average, and don’t worry if it’s different to others, as long as you feel refreshed the next day.
9. BORE YOURSELF TO SLEEP
Try not to worry about not sleeping, or lean too heavily on techniques to get yourself to sleep or this in itself will keep you awake. Practice mindfulness to address your thoughts and emotions if you are struggling, and just drift…
If you struggle to switch off your thoughts, try square breathing (that's in for four, hold for four, out for four and hold for four).
Professor Williams of The London Sleep Centre is clear: If you've been in bed for 15 minutes stressing about how to sleep better, get up. Go and do a dull or unstimulating task in your bed.