Not sleeping well not only leaves you feeling tired, but can actually harm your physical and mental health. According to Dr Guy Meadows, co-founder
Not sleeping well not only leaves you feeling tired, but can actually harm your physical and mental health. According to Dr Guy Meadows, co-founder of The Sleep School, 63 per cent of the UK population feel unhappy with the amount of sleep they get. Dr Guy has partnered with Swedish furniture store IKEA to create the ‘IKEA Sleep Hub’ – a tool to help people learn more about getting a good night’s sleep. Here they share five simple things you can do each night to make sure you sleep well:
Make sleep a priority
“The amount of sleep we need is unique to every individual as it is partly determined by our genetics,” said Dr Guy.
Whilst most of us will need a good seven to eight hours of sleep per night, some people may need as little as four hours, while others may need as much as 10.
Keep bedtime consistent
Those who prefer to go to bed later and get up later are called evening types or ‘owls’, whilst morning types or ‘larks’ tend to have an earlier sleep-wake pattern.
“Discovering which category you fall into and sticking to your natural sleep-wake timing is most likely to bring you the best quality sleep and daytime energy,” said Dr Guy.
Phones, tablets, TVs and e-readers all emit an artificial blue light, which is the same wavelength as that of the sun.
Therefore, looking at these screens in the last hour before bed, or during the night to check the time, tricks the brain into thinking it’s time to wake up.
“Turning the bedroom into a ‘digital free zone’ is a great way of avoiding this issue, implementing a calm ‘no distraction’ environment. Swapping your phone, for example, for a traditional alarm clock is a simple way to improve your sleep quality,” said Alee Abas, sales leader for Bedrooms at IKEA.
The body’s hormones are sensitive to light, which can have a big impact on your sleep.
In the morning, sunlight stimulates the release of cortisol, the hormone responsible for waking you up and energising you for the day ahead.
When it gets dark, your internal body clock triggers the release of the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin, preparing you for sleep.
“Darkening down an hour before bedtime and sleeping in a dark room is an essential ingredient for a great night’s sleep,” said Dr Guy.
Your core body temperature plays an important role in the regulation of sleep, with a 1°C drop at the start of the night needed to help you fall asleep, and an equivalent rise needed to wake you up in the morning.
Aim to keep your bedroom cool, with an ideal temperature of 16 – 17°C to improve your sleep.
“If being too hot is your issue, using sheets and blankets instead of a duvet allows you to regulate your body temperature more easily, while certain materials are better at keeping us cool than others,” said Alee.