HOW TO GET TO SLEEP: The summer months can pose a number of problems when it comes to bedtime. Hot temperatures and longer daylight hours can make it difficult to achieve a peaceful night’s slumber. But according to the Sleep Council, you are what you eat when it comes to sleep, and eating certain foods can help ensure an uninterrupted forty-winks.
Sleep is important when it comes to our physical health – not having enough can put you in a bad mood and result in lack of focus.
If poor sleep becomes a recurring thing, you can be at risk of serious medical conditions such as obesity, heart disease and diabetes, according to the NHS.
Simple changes to your lifestyle can make a big difference, such as reducing the intensity of artificial light in your home at night.
The food and drink you consume can also have a drastic effect, according to the Sleep Council. One of the best foods for sleep it recommends is cherries.
Other foods it advises to eat are milk, chicken and rice. But fatty meat, curry and alcohol should be avoided.
It adds to avoid stimulants like caffeine and cigarettes and to avoid sedatives, such as sleeping pills and alcohol, to help you sleep. These have short term benefits and long term counter effects, such as dependency.
To mark the importance of sleep with regards to mental health, Tempur has partnered with the Mental Health Foundation to reveal its top tips for a a good night’s rest – one of these being having a milky drink before bedtime.
Follow a wind down routine
Our bodies release a hormone called melatonin that makes us feel naturally tired at around 10-11pm. If you go with it and head to bed as you feel tired, you’ll sleep better. Try establishing a bedtime routine that can help you recognise and promote that wave. Turning off the TV and listening to music, having a milky drink or enjoying a warm bath are good ways to rest the mind, and open ourselves up to sleepiness.
If you can’t sleep, get up
Don’t lie in bed awake tossing and turning. If you can’t get off to sleep or get back to sleep, get up. Try a warm caffeine/sugar free drink or listen to some calm music for a while. Don’t be tempted to check your phone!
Know your sleep
You need to know how much sleep you need to feel good. It’s likely to be seven to eight hours, but it could be as little as four. Try keeping a sleep diary or tracking your sleep with a wearable device (ideally not your phone). If you have a good idea of how much sleep you need to feel good and what affects your sleep, you can make sure you establish good habits, or pinpoint issues.
Watch what and when you eat and drink
As a rule, eating less than two hours before bed means that food hasn’t had time to digest before we try and sleep. This can lead to discomfort and indigestion. Fatty or spicy foods can take longer to process and stimulants like caffeine or sugar can give us a boost of energy when we want to be winding down. Rice, oats and dairy products can encourage us to feel sleepy.
We like to think that alcohol makes us sleep better. It may help us nod off, but the quality of the sleep you get may be poor, and dehydration or a late-night takeaway can further impair our sleep.
Exercise – but not in the evening
Exercise is great for mental health and regular light exercise is a good way to improve sleep. Exercise floods the body with feel-good hormones that stimulate our minds and bodies, so beware of exercising late at night as it can actually keep us awake.
Don’t grab a nap on the way home
Sometimes it’s easy to give in to sleep on the train or bus home after a busy day. If you nod off, even for a short time, you can short circuit the natural hormone surges that set us up for our main sleep. So if you are tired early in the evening, try and get an early night.
Don’t let a health issue stop you sleeping
Do what you can to treat colds and flu at home and make sure that you speak to your doctor if an ongoing health problem or treatment affects your sleep.
Find ways to address anxiety and worry
Health is one of our biggest worries. If you lie awake mulling over concerns about your health, or the health of a loved one, you could try a relaxation exercise or mindfulness practice to help settle your internal worries.
Don’t put up with poor sleep
Basic techniques can often improve your sleep. If tips like these don’t work, speak to your GP. It may be that you have an underlying health issue.
If you have insomnia for more than a couple of weeks, or often feel so sleepy you could drop off during the day, it’s worth speaking to the doctor as sleep disorders can increase our risk of developing depression, heart disease or stroke.
From the sale of every Tempur matters throughout May purchased through a Tempur official store of the Tempur UK website, £10 will be donated to The Mental Health Foundation.