Everyone has had the experience of tossing and turning in bed, trying desperately to fall asleep.
And unfortunately, sleep is one of those things in life that becomes more and more elusive the harder you try to achieve it.
Sometimes, if you have had a bad night’s sleep, it is even more difficult to get to sleep the next night because you have started worrying about your ability to drift off into the land of Nod.
If these anxieties go unchecked, they can build up and lead to worsening sleep problems.
Thankfully, there are a number of things you can do to increase your chances of getting a good night’s sleep and waking up the next day refreshed and ready to take on the world.
Why is sleep important?
We often resent the amount of time that sleep takes out of our busy schedules, as evidenced by the popularity of lifestyle influencers who claim to wake up at all hours of the night to get their day started.
However, sleep is actually vitally important to our physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.
Sleep is restorative and energising, and it also boosts your mood, immunity and even memory capabilities.
The amount of sleep you need will vary according to your age and health but studies have shown that not getting enough sleep can lead to serious health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, depression, anxiety, insulin resistance and fatigue.
How to get a great night’s sleep
Now that you know just how important sleep is, here are a few different tips to help you maximise your sleep every night.
1. Build a bedtime routine
It should come as no surprise that some bedtime activities are more likely to keep you awake than others.
However, you might be surprised to learn just what a difference your sleep routine can make.
A recent study by Betway Insider analysed 14 different activities that many of us perform before bed, to determine which are the most conducive to helping us fall asleep.
The study found that activities such as watching a horror movie, playing mobile games or scrolling through social media tended to disrupt sleep, while meditation, listening to music or applying a face mask helped people to drift off to sleep more easily.
2. Avoid caffeine before bed
Try to reduce your caffeine intake a few hours before bed to increase your chances of falling asleep quickly.
This means more than just not drinking coffee; you should avoid caffeinated teas, alcohol, over the counter medication and heavy meals before bed as they are all likely to keep you awake.
If you want a warm beverage before bed, why not opt for a cup of hot chocolate or decaffeinated tea?
Similarly, if you are hungry, you should choose a light meal or snack rather than a large, heavy meal.
Large meals force your body to process and digest food, and also keep you awake.
Finally, it is best to avoid alcohol right before bed.
A glass of wine may make you feel sleepy and help you drift off, but your sleep is likely to be light, fretful and less restful than it otherwise would have been.
3. Plan your exercise for earlier in the day
We have all done it – bedtime rolls around and you have not gotten any exercise and suddenly find yourself bouncing around the room, hoping to fit in a quick, at-home workout or late-night run.
Unfortunately, physical activity can energise your body and mind, and keep you up much later than you ever intended, making it more difficult to shut off for the night.
If you want to get some exercise in but do not want to be kept up all night, why not try some gentle yoga or stretching before bed?
You may also find that some simple meditation or a walk around the block will help you to relax and unwind without pumping your body full of adrenaline.
4. Create a welcoming space
It will be more difficult to fall asleep in a chaotic and stressful room than in a quiet, clean and calm room.
If you can, try to create a healthy sleep environment by reducing noise levels, limiting the number of electronics in the room and keeping the area as clean and clutter-free as possible.