Getting enough sleep seems to be a challenge in and of itself these days. We have so many things that demand our time and attention that we start to settle for less and less each night. Waiting for the weekend might not be enough to get you through, so every night is precious. We hope we can offer a few tips to help you make the most of your rest.
We live in a world saturated with artificial light. Televisions, computers, smartphones and even LED headlights of passing cars bombard our eyes each day. The ‘cold’ blue light emitted by electronic devices is the same as daylight, which also has a colder light temperature.
This type of light signals your body to be alert and produce chemicals to keep you awake. Normally this is a good thing as our bodies start to ‘wake up’ when the day begins. Experiencing this light artificially can upset your body’s circadian rhythm or ‘body clock’. Your body will start to produce those same chemicals to keep you awake when you don’t want or need them. Taking in a lot of blue light just before bed can disrupt your sleep.
Some sources of blue light are naturally out of your control, but there are many ways to control the amount of blue light you receive in the evening.
Blue Light Modes - Most phones will have a ‘blue light mode’ available to reduce the ‘coldness’ of the light they emit. This can give your screen a ‘warmer’ orange hue that some dislike, but it can make a big difference in your blue light exposure. There are also computer programs that automatically warm the light of your screen based on a timer.
Cold Turkey – One obvious way to limit blue light is to cut out using electronics past a certain time. This is more challenging for people who can’t help but use electronics at night for work or study, or who simply want some down time scrolling. Ultimately, this might not be possible, but you may surprise yourself with the quality of your sleep after giving blue light the boot in the evening.
Warm Lighting – Changing lighting in rooms you're going to relax in can help get you ready to sleep. Just as blue light signals the body to sleep, warm light helps relax you. Warm light is the same found in sunsets and firelight and can be replicated by using ‘warm white’ LED bulbs as part of your lighting. If you’re going to be spending time in warmly lit rooms before bed, you may see an improvement.
The mattress you sleep on is a massive part of your sleep routine. It’s also a major purchase, as a good one will last you at least five to ten years. Swapping out your mattress on the fly may not always be feasible, but something like a mattress topper is an excellent compromise between getting a new mattress and suffering in silence with the old one. There are lots of types to choose from: memory foam for extra comfort, cooling foam toppers to regulate temperature, and even toppers for regulating airflow.
The duvet you have on your bed is also a big factor in getting good sleep. You should at least have a winter and a summer duvet with togs to suit the weather. Sticking with the same duvet year-round is like wearing a jacket through summer to make it to winter! It’s easy to get lost in tog counts, but all you really need to remember is that a ‘tog’ is a measurement of warmth rather than thickness. Here are some rough numbers for the tog values we suggest for duvets during each season:
Some duvets come in two parts so you can attach and discard the extra layer as needed. Other than switching your duvet as the seasons change, you can always do it the old-fashioned way during the colder months with quality blankets. A throw is not just for show. The extra warmth they can provide can make the difference for sleep quality and are easily stored once you no longer need them.
The support, or lack of, your pillow gives you is just as important as what mattress or duvet you have. Your sleeping orientation, back, front or side is going to affect the sort of pillow you need to get the most from sleep. We have a fantastic guide on how to buy the right pillows depending on how you sleep.
The amount of noise in your bedroom is going to impact your sleep, but everyone has their own ideas of what a good amount of noise is. Many prefer as little as possible whilst others need at least a little noise to feel comfortable. Creating noise is certainly a lot easier than blocking it out. Something like a fan is a solid choice in the summer when heat is an issue. There are also white noise machines available to provide a low level of noise. Many people enjoy music when they're trying to sleep, so look at automatic power switch and a good quality radio. These handy additions act as a mechanical timer, switching off whatever is plugged into the same socket after a set period. This way you can play music as you drift off, knowing that the device won’t be playing all night wasting electricity.
The way that you wake up can influence how rested you feel after a night of sleep. In the past, human beings had access to a reliable natural alarm that gradually woke them up in the form of the sun. Nowadays, we must deal with more precision in our routines, as well as further tweaks in the form of British Summer Time. Over the years, we’ve settled for mechanical alarm clocks and the screeching beep of electronic alarms. Even swapping out a dedicated alarm clock with our phones still has a rather jarring effect, no matter how serene the song we choose.
Thankfully, there are alternatives like slow light alarms. These alarm clocks have a light that slowly brightens before sounding. This means your alarm acts like the gradual rising of the sun, waking you up gently over time rather than shocking you awake with an alarm.
Another important element of getting the best rest is being strict with a schedule.
Caffeine Cut Out – Not having caffeinated drinks like tea and coffee past a certain time will stop them from keeping you awake. Black teas and coffee are also natural diuretics which may disturb your sleep.
Switching Off – Saying you'll switch off devices after a certain time can be challenging, but there are clear benefits to saying goodbye to screens in the evening. A good rule of thumb is to try cutting out all screentime one hour before you go to bed.
No Screen Zone – Drawing the line at the bedroom door for your electronics may make a big impact on the quality of your sleep. Ditching the pings of a phone will stop you from being woken prematurely, and reduce stimulation of last-second scrolling to help you relax.
The quality of your sleep and the way that you structure your space and schedule are strongly linked, so making sure you're giving yourself all the help you can is essential. Even something as simple as changing the last hour of your day can mean big changes in how much energy you have. We hope that these tips help you get the best from your rest!