Most people need eight hours of uninterrupted sleep in order to stay healthy. There are some exceptions to the eight hour rule; so if you’re a night-owl, but you are alert during the day and feel generally healthy there’s no need to worry about the amount of sleep you are getting. However, if you struggle to get out of bed in the morning and feel tired by mid-afternoon, it could be that you aren’t getting enough sleep or that the sleep you are getting is being interrupted because you are uncomfortable in bed.
Sleep Hygiene Tips for Busy People
If you complain to your doctor about your difficulty sleeping, there is a good chance they will tell you to improve your sleep hygiene. This means avoiding things that will interrupt your sleep, or keep you awake late at night. Here are a few practical and easy to implement tips that will help you get a good night’s sleep:
1. Form a Routine
Most of us are creatures of habit. You will be more likely to get to sleep easily if you always go to bed at the same time of day and get up at the same time too. You should try to stick to that routine even on weekends.
If you work shifts, you might not be able to stick to a rigid routine, but you can still form habits that will tell your body it is time for bed. Instead of simply pulling on your pyjamas and climbing into bed, have a list of tasks that you will do. Perhaps your night-time routine could involve drinking a glass of water, brushing your teeth, combing your hair, turning out all the downstairs lights, reading a chapter of a book and then going to bed. If you do those things in that order every day it will help your body prepare for sleeping.
2. Avoid Heavy Meals and Caffeine Before Bed
A light snack before bed can keep hunger pangs away, but you should try not to eat too much immediately before bed. Try to avoid big meals within two hours of bed time and avoid caffeinated beverages in the evening as well.
3. Turn Down the Heat
It may seem counter-intuitive, but the best sleeping environment is a cool room. If you live in a quiet area (and sleep upstairs), consider opening your window slightly at night so that you can sleep in a cool room with plenty of fresh air. If you can’t open a window for whatever reason, turn the thermostat down so that you don’t overheat at night.
4. Check Your Bed
When was the last time you replaced your mattress? Bed manufacturers recommend you replace your mattress every five to seven years. If you are sleeping on a mattress that is sagging, dented, or otherwise damaged, then you should replace it as soon as possible. A heavily worn mattress is probably not going to be able to provide your body with enough support to keep you comfortable and could be giving you back or neck issues.