how you sleep matters 

 Xandra says: In the same way that sitting incorrectly all day can play havoc with your back, poor sleeping posture can affect your back and joints too. Poor posture when sleeping can cause back and neck pain, headaches, tiredness, reduced circulation, cramp, reflux and digestive upset.1

A good night’s sleep is not only about sleeping in a way that relieves and averts joint pressure. Choosing the right bed and bedding, and being sure to limit stimulants before bed is also important. ‘Sleep hygiene’ is a term used to describe the ways to create an environment, routine and healthy habits to help ensure that you sleep well at night.

We are a sleep-deprived nation. One in six of us2 fail to get even six hours of sleep per night. The quality of the sleep that we have can also affect us. Our bodies work in cycles of sleep, moving through four phases, from light sleep, into deeper sleep, and back. Each cycle happens multiple times throughout the night and our circadian rhythm – our body’s own alarm clock – works to tell us when to sleep and when to wake. 

On average, most adults require between seven to eight hours of sleep each night. Ideally, we should go to bed when we are tired and wake naturally, feeling refreshed and ready to start the day ahead. Stimulants like caffeine, stress, technology and too much sugar can all disrupt that natural sleep pattern, leaving us feeling tired and stressed. Medication can disrupt our sleep, as can menopause and the night sweats that come with it can also affect our sleep, leaving us feeling exhausted, rather than refreshed when we wake. 

how can I sleep better? 

If you are sleeping badly, while a trip to the GP can help, we advise first checking your own home, your bed and the way in which you sleep, to see if there are simple ways to get a better night’s sleep. As we discuss in the better sleep toolkit, it’s also important not to overlook our diet and nutrition when considering our overall sleep routine in the hours before bedtime. 

Check your diet. Sugar and stimulants can all disrupt your sleep. If you are a caffeine addict, try and ensure you are avoiding it in the evenings, especially before bed. Try and eat dinner earlier in the evening, so that your digestive system can do most of its work while you are awake. A glass of warm milk before bed is not an old wives tale! Milk contains tryptophan, which, when drunk, converts to melatonin, which helps us sleep. Almond milk contains high levels of magnesium, another natural sleep support, which can help ensure a restful night. Chamomile or decaffeinated green tea can also help you to drift off to sleep. 

Avoid alcohol: It may seem like a good idea to have a few drinks to help you sleep, but the opposite is true. Alcohol disrupts our sleep and can lead to a restless, rather than a restful night’s sleep. 

Check your stress levels. As we discuss in the better sleep toolkit, cortisol, which is released when we are stressed, can play a major role in causing havoc in our sleep patterns. Try and…

references:

  1. Which Sleeping Position is the Best For You?
  2. Three quarters of Brits get less than eight hours sleep