Getting enough sleep is very important for our health, both physically and mentally. In fact, it’s just as important as eating a balanced diet and regularly exercising.
Most of us need around 8 hours of sleep a night to properly function. However, some of us need more and some of us need less. As a general rule, if you’re waking up tired and longing for a nap, it’s likely that you’re not getting enough sleep.
Lack of sleep often results in fatigue, a short temper and lack of focus however, after a string of sleepless nights you’re likely to have difficulty making decisions, increase your risk of accidents and injury and experience a negative impact on your mental and physical health. So, it’s important to figure out how much sleep you need each night and try to achieve this.
The NHS states that “one in 3 of us suffers from poor sleep, with stress, computers and taking work home often blamed”. As a result of these unprecedented times of being in a Pandemic people are experiencing heightened levels of stress and anxiety, which potentially has the knock-on effect of disrupted sleep.
If you’re having trouble sleeping you could try these tips:
Create a bedtime routine and stick to it – Whilst most of us are good at planning our days we tend to forget about creating a bedtime routine even though this can help us have a better night’s sleep.
Here are some things you could include in your bedtime routine:
- Make a sleep schedule – go to bed and wake up at the same times every day (even on the weekends) and try to plan this so you get enough sleep each night.
- Avoid caffeine after 2pm (12pm would be even better) – remember that chocolate also contains caffeine so try not to eat this too late at night.
- Don’t eat anything past 8pm or 2 hours before you go to sleep.
- Switch off technology 30 mins to an hour before bed – this will help you wind down and will stop notifications disturbing your sleep – The blue light emitted from your phone, computer, and TV screens is known to be a major factor in disturbed sleep.
Get outside – Get outside during the day. Natural light plays an important role in the creation of serotonin (the happy chemical) and melatonin (the sleep chemical) in your body. It also helps regulate your circadian rhythm (your body clock) which helps you fall asleep and wake up.
Avoid naps – Napping in the day, especially later on in the day can make it harder for you to fall asleep at night. If you’ve had a bad night’s sleep try and avoid taking a nap and instead go to bed an hour or so earlier.
Exercise daily – Studies have shown that regular exercise and being active can help you sleep by decreasing some of the worries and anxieties you have. However, you should avoid exercising too late in the evening as you can become over energised and have trouble falling asleep.
Limit your news intake – It’s important to stay informed, however there are lots of different sources providing varying coronavirus information. This could be adding fuel to your anxiety/worries. You should go directly to reliable sources such as the NHS and Government websites and ignore what’s on your feeds. You should also avoid the temptation to constantly check the news and social media especially before bed.
Try some relaxation techniques – Including relaxation techniques within your day can help you wind down before bed and get a better night’s sleep. These could include:
- Having a bath
- Scheduling some quiet time
- Breathing techniques
- Listening to some calming music
- Reading a book
Write down your thoughts and feelings – Keep a notepad and pen beside your bed so you can write down your thoughts and feelings before you go to bed or if you wake up during the night. This can help stop thoughts building up inside your head and ease falling asleep.
Get up – If you’ve been laying in bed for a while and still can’t sleep you should get up and try something relaxing, such as meditating, listening to music, colouring or reading. This will help you to get out of your thoughts and wind down.
For more info and tips around sleep visit The Teen Sleep Hub.