How to get the best sleep

Healthy Living > Physical health > How to get the best sleep

Blog Article | By Liggy Webb  5 March 2021
Illustration of a man asleep with his teddy bear with a quote underneath

'Without enough sleep, we all become tall two-year-olds.' - Jojo Jensen

The world is evolving at such a fast pace and living through a pandemic against the backdrop of the fourth industrial revolution has certainly had a big impact on our overall lifestyle. So much has changed including our working habits, hobbies and also the way we socialise. We are also experiencing heightened anxiety levels caused by living with so much disruption and uncertainty. All in all, this can really take its toll on the quality of our sleep and this in turn influences our overall mood and ability to cope well.

Illustration of a man asleep with his teddy bear with a quote underneath

'Sleep is the golden chain that ties health and our bodies together.' - Thomas Dekker

The amount of sleep people need is unique to each individual. This will vary with our level of activity and the amount of energy we exert throughout the day. How much sleep we actually require will also vary throughout our lifetime depending on our age and circumstances.

Understanding how much sleep we personally need and ensuring we maintain quality levels of sleep are key factors to supporting our health and wellbeing. It is also worth bearing in mind that stress levels can increase when the length and quality of sleep decreases. Developing healthy habits around sleep can help us to feel better able to cope in the current climate and deal well with the challenges we are facing.

Take 5 tips

Here are five ways to get the best rest and recharge:

1. Create a sanctuary for sleep


Here are five useful tips to create an environment that is conducive for sleep:

  • Invest in a good quality mattress which will ensure your bed provides the correct support, comfort and space.
  • Declutter your bedroom and keep it tidy. Looking at chaos before you go to sleep may agitate you and be on your mind when you're trying to go to sleep.
  • You could look at using a diffuser to create pleasant smells, such as lavender and geranium, which can be really soothing.
  • Enable the best bedroom temperature for sleep which is approximately (18.3 degrees Celsius (65 degrees Fahrenheit). This may vary by a few degrees from person to person, but most doctors recommend keeping the thermostat set between 15.6 to 19.4 degrees Celsius (60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit) for the most comfortable sleep.
  • Block out any light as this is essential for sleep and the absence of light helps tell your body that it is time to rest. Light exposure throughout the night can lead to frequent and prolonged awakenings so invest in blackout curtains or blinds if necessary.

Ideally your bedroom needs to be somewhere that you associate with sleep. Wherever possible, remove distractions. It is far better to watch TV, check social media and eat in another room. This will allow you to fully relax.

An increasing amount of sleep advice suggests keeping technology out of the bedroom altogether. The backlit 'blue light' displays on some gadgets suppress melatonin production which is the hormone that helps you sleep. The suppression of melatonin can cause sleep disruption during the night too so the sooner you switch off technology before you go to sleep, the better. 

Illustration of a man in bed with laptop, mobile phone, and eating pizza

2. Keep regular sleeping hours


Your circadian rhythm is a 24-hour internal clock that you have that is running in the background of your brain and cycles between sleepiness and alertness at regular intervals. It functions on a set loop, aligning itself with sunrise and sunset. Being consistent with your sleep and waking times can aid long-term sleep quality. Irregular sleep patterns can alter your circadian rhythm and levels of melatonin, which signal your brain to sleep.

If you struggle with your sleep, get in the habit of waking up and going to bed at similar times. After several weeks, you may not even need an alarm.

Illustration of a lady in bed sleeping peacefully

3. Relax before you sleep


There are lots of things that you can do to relax before you go to bed. Here are some top tips for relaxation:


  • Focus on your breathing. Take a deep breath into your stomach and then out through your nose, making your out-breath longer than your in-breath. You can keep repeating this until you feel relaxed.
  • Progressively relax your muscles. You can do this by consciously tensing each muscle and relaxing them, one after the other. Starting with your toes and working your way up through your body until you reach the top of your head.
  • Play music. Music has many therapeutic benefits and listening to calming music can help relieve stress and anxiety. It may also improve your mood and help with your overall well-being. The Sleep Foundation proposes classical or jazz songs with 60 to 80 beats per minute as the best recommendations for your sleep playlist
Illustration of a clipboard with an emtpy pros and cons list

4. Offload your worries


When you have things on your mind that are perhaps making you anxious it is best to get them off your chest. Lying in bed and festering about things that may have upset you and playing them over and over in your mind can build up unnecessary stress.

A useful tip is to write down what is on your mind and create a cons and pros list. First of all, write down what is bothering you and then flip it over and think about a positive solution or identify the potential opportunity in the situation. It is also good to keep a gratitude journal and write down three things at the end of the day that were positive highlights. By focusing on these before you go to sleep you will drift off in a positive and happy frame of mind.

Illustration of an alarm clock ringing

5. Avoid clock watching


Worrying about getting enough sleep can itself stop you sleeping. The best way to deal with this is to remind yourself that resting in bed and focusing on positive and pleasant thoughts is more productive than tossing and turning and looking at your alarm clock every few minutes.

If you find you simply cannot sleep then get up and do something you find relaxing until you feel sleepy again, then go back to bed. If lack of sleep is persistent and it is affecting your daily life in a negative way it may be advisable to book an appointment to see your doctor, naturopath or a sleep specialist.

Illustration of a man asleep with his teddy bear with a quote underneath

'A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor's book.' - Irish Proverb

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