After a hard day you look forward to a good night's sleep, but as soon as your head hits the pillow you feel wide awake - it's beyond frustrating, it can impact your relationships, your work and your mental health, if you don't find the rest you need.
If you have a tendency to lie in bed, staring at the ceiling, constantly picking up your phone to check the time, to see how long you have until the alarm rings - then you're not alone.
In fact, Oxford University scientists say we're getting an hour or two less sleep a night than we were 60 years ago, and research conducted by the UK's Mental Health Foundation published show that up to a third of the population has trouble falling asleep at night.
Why do I need a good night's sleep?
Poor sleep not only makes you tired, but research shows it can also negatively impact other aspects of your life:
- More than four times as many people with insomnia reported relationship problems compared to good sleepers.
- Almost 95% of people with insomnia reported low energy levels in their daily lives, compared to over 40% of people with a good night's sleep.
- Over 75% of people with insomnia reported difficulty concentrating.
What can I do to get better sleep?
Statistics from the British Sleep Council show that 31 percent of the population has taken medication to relieve a sleep problem. But before you visit your pharmacist, check out the 7 most common sleep mistakes and how you can fix them to instantly improve your sleep quality.
Your bedroom is not sleep friendly
It may sound logical, but too much light and background noise can prevent you from falling asleep or staying asleep.
Thick blackout curtains and blinds can help, or you can put on an eye mask and earplugs, which you can take everywhere take with you, too.
Temperature is also important, and if you're sharing a bed with a partner who has different temperature preferences, a partner duvet with a choice of different combinations is the perfect solution.
You should also keep your tech devices outside of the bedroom. If you use your phone to wake you up, invest in a traditional alarm clock.
You have an irregular bedtime and wake-up time
Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day creates a routine that your body will get used to - and you'll soon find yourself waking up naturally, without an alarm clock. If you get a good 7-8 hours of sleep every night, you won't feel the need to sleep in on Sundays.
Too much 'blue light' two hours before bed
Your tech devices signal your brain that it's daytime whenever they're turned on. TVs, smartphones and PC screens emit a blue light that has the same effect on your brain as daylight by suppressing your body's production of the hormone "melatonin". Your body needs melatonin to signal it's time to sleep - so turn off the screens to give your body time to realize it's bedtime
Do you have a bedtime, downtime routine?
Just as having a bedtime and waking routine will help your body prepare for sleep, a bedtime routine will also help you relax and get a good night's sleep to be ready. This can be a warm bath, reading a book (no eBook or tablet) or turning off the bright electric lights and just listening to relaxing music by candlelight half an hour before bedtime.
Writing down your worries before bedtime help you put things in perspective. You don't need to write a novel, just a list of what you're thinking about - it could be all the things you have to do tomorrow, for example. Once put on paper, you don't have to keep them in your head.
This will signal your mind and body that it's time to rest.
Avoid stimulants like caffeine after lunch
Caffeine, found in some teas and soft drinks, as well as coffee, stays in your body for many hours after you've consumed the beverage, stimulating your body to stay awake. So try to switch to decaffeinated drinks like herbal teas or water after 12 noon.
Let's talk about food
Eating rice, oats, and dairy products can produce chemicals that increase our need for sleep - while foods high in sugar can keep you awake when eaten late in the day. So avoid sugar in your lighter evening meals and add some sleep-inducing ingredients instead.
When we eat, our body has to work hard to digest the food, so eating late puts extra stress on your digestive system, which increases can negatively affect your sleep. So try to eat each main meal earlier in the day and eat a light meal in the evening.
Why your body can keep your mind awake
Exercise is good for reducing stress and sleeping better, but strenuous exercise with increased oxygenation will wake up your body. So get your run, swim, or aerobics class a little earlier in the day.
What should I do if I still can't fall asleep?
If you're having trouble falling asleep, don't stay just lie sorrowful. Get up for a while and get something to drink (no sugar or caffeine, remember!), try reading a book or magazine (not a tablet or eBook) for a while, and go back to bed when you feel a little more sleepy feel.