How to Make Sleeping a Habit
Sleep is as natural to us – not to mention as important – as breathing or eating. It’s an essential bodily function that protects how our brains work. If we don’t get enough of a recharge every night, we can soon find ourselves struggling to concentrate, suffering from memory lapses, and being unable to keep our emotions in check.
But unlike breathing, sleep doesn’t just happen. Like eating, you have to put a certain amount of work into sleep. Things like finding a comfortable, safe, warm, dry spot to rest in. Or, more relevant in the modern context, switching ourselves off from the high-stress, always-on lifestyles we lead.
Again, much like eating the right things, sleeping well on a consistent basis is a matter of getting into good habits. Unfortunately, lots of people are not in the habit of sleeping well. A third of adults in the UK struggle to get a good night’s sleep on a weekly basis. One in five battle insomnia every night.
So what can you do to turn bad sleep habits into good ones?
1. Get into a routine
Feelings of tiredness and wakefulness are physical states in our body. They follow a cycle known as the circadian rhythm. This pattern lasts roughly 24-hours and it strengthens through consistency. So if you go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning, you boost your chances of getting a good night’s sleep.
Similarly, if you follow the same routine before bedtime every night – have a bath or shower, brush your teeth, read a book – you further train your body to expect sleep.
2. Avoid caffeine, nicotine and alcohol before bed
Your natural circadian rhythm is easily disrupted by regular changes in routine such as going to bed at different times every night. It is also easily disrupted by caffeine, nicotine and alcohol. All of these chemicals will throw your body’s natural transition to being ready for sleep off kilter, even if you feel tired.
3. Lower the lights and put down your phone
Your natural sleep-wake patterns are heavily influenced by darkness and light. That’s a problem in the modern world where we surround ourselves with bright artificial lights the moment it gets dark. What you’re doing in effect is tricking your body into thinking it can’t be time to wind down for sleep after all.
Lower the lights at least an hour before it’s time for bed. Use dimmer switches or swap a main room light for a lamp. And make it a rule to not use your mobile in the hour before bed. Mobile phones emit bright blue light which stimulates the wakeful part of our cycle.
4. Make your bedroom a sleep haven
Finally, you increase your chances of getting a good night’s sleep the more comfortable and inviting you make your sleeping environment. Avoid TVs and other screens in your bedroom. Again, the light they emit triggers us into wakefulness. Choose soft, warm lighting and keep it low.
Get rid of unnecessary distractions and clutter. Make your bedroom somewhere you associate first and foremost with sleep. And make bed a place you look forward to going. Focus on the things that make you feel comfortable, relaxed and ready for sleep.
Finally, treat yourself to a bespoke mattress made to your specifications for luxurious levels of comfort. After all, your circadian rhythm dictates that you will spend roughly a third of your life in bed asleep. You might as well do it in comfort.