There’s nothing like waking up after a night of good sleep. Feeling rested and ready is a great way to seize the day and achieve your goals without feeling tired or losing focus. Counting sheep can only get you so far, but through a few simple lifestyle and dietary adjustments (such as healthy snacks and melatonin-rich foods) there are a number of ways you can improve your chances for a great night’s sleep:
Get into a routine
Sleep is something we need to do every day and just like the other daily essentials it needs to be part of a routine. Try going to bed and waking up at the same time every day (even weekends if possible!) and as a result your body can become accustomed to fall asleep at a certain time, leaving you feeling refreshed and ready the next day. Winding down is an important part of this routine, so take some time to relax and do the things you enjoy before settling down to bed.
In the hours before going to bed, your diet can have a large effect on how easily you’ll be able to get to sleep. Healthy snacks are a great way to stave off hunger in the evenings; foods containing complex carbohydrates and some protein can be helpful. For example, walnut butter on oatcakes is also a good idea as walnuts have been shown to raise levels of the sleep hormone Melatonin (not to mention being really tasty). Similarly, cherry juice is helpful to raise melatonin levels and has been shown to improve the quality and quantity of sleep. Avoid all forms of caffeine at least six hours before bed as it is a stimulant; this isn’t just limited to tea and coffee but is also found in chocolate, soft drinks and over the counter medicines.
Distractions before bed can also make it difficult to fall asleep. Try to minimise external influencers such as noise and light, even if it means getting some better curtains or earplugs. Additionally, try to avoid electronic devices such as mobile phones, televisions or laptops; too much interaction and light can stimulate the mind too much and make it difficult to switch off and drift away. Ironically, trying too hard to get to sleep can be a distraction in itself; if you’re unable to get to sleep, get up and do something different until you feel tired.
Enjoy a healthy lifestyle
The way you live your day to day life also has a strong impact on your sleep. Exercise is a great way to reduce stress and encourage an overall feeling of wellbeing, not to mention tiring you out! Exercising outdoors is especially beneficial as exposure to daylight will help regulate your body and absorb vitamin D; be careful though, as exercising too close to bedtime could leave your body too stimulated. Finally, invest in a good pillow and mattress. These are things that you use every single day and play an important part in your wellbeing, so it’s worth investing just a little bit more money to get something comfortable and relaxing.
By following the tips in this article, you can work towards increasing the quality of your sleep. Eat healthy snacks, exercise, get some comfy pillows and most importantly, learn to relax! You'll be amazed at how much better you feel after a good night’s sleep and how much more you can achieve when you are at your best.