Now that the clocks have gone forward and the weather is changing, one thing we can also change is our sleep pattern. By giving our sleep a spring clean and breaking some old habits, we can look forward to making the most of the spring and summer evenings without feeling the repercussions of a bad night’s kip.
We’ve all heard of giving our homes a good old spring clean, but one thing we might not have thought about is spring cleaning our sleep too – and many of us could do with it.
An astounding 25% of Brits get just five hours of sleep a night or less, with the average person missing out on 15 days’ worth of sleep every year, according to research by Silentnight and the University of Leeds.
In a bid to solve the nation’s difficult relationship with shut-eye, Silentnight’s resident sleep expert, Dr Nerina Ramlakhan, who has spent decades studying various sleep complaints, has identified five unhealthy habits that she believes are at the root of the nation’s poor sleep.
Dr Nerina believes kicking these five habits and giving your sleep routine a thorough spring clean could be the answer to getting a good night’s kip:
- The morning coffee
“We all know that too much caffeine late in the day will hamper your chance of getting a good night’s sleep, but did you know that grabbing a skinny latte first thing in the morning could also be costing you shut-eye? Not eating proper food within 30 minutes of waking up leaves your body running on the wrong kind of energy and relying on stress hormones to function.
“Eating breakfast activates your circadian clock and allows your body to produce the sleep hormone melatonin. People who eat a proper breakfast find it less difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep, wake up with more energy and are less inclined to hit the snooze button. Eating breakfast can also boost your overall mood and reduce feelings of anxiety.”
- Sleeping on an old mattress
Almost 50% of us are sleeping on mattresses that were originally bought for someone else, and 22% of us would happily sleep on the same mattress for 20 years, according to Silentnight research – but this grubby habit could be seriously damaging our health.
Dr Nerina said: “The average person sheds up to a pound of skin and hair a year, and not regularly replacing bedding can actually lead to bed bug infestations and the spread of dangerous infections like staphylococcus, norovirus and even MRSA – not to mention sagging, old mattresses leading to neck and back issues.
If you’re currently looking for a new mattress, why not have a browse of our spring sale here.
- Late night series binges
“Watching the next episode of the series you can’t switch off might feel like a great way to wind down in the evening, but if you’re watching on a laptop or tablet you could be negatively impacting your sleep.
“The blue light emitted from electronic devices triggers the production of dopamine in the brain, over stimulating your nervous system and suppressing the production of melatonin. Cells in the hypothalamus part of the brain then secrete more dopamine, which further wakes you up and make it really difficult for you to drift off when you do want to sleep.”
- The weekend sleep catch up
“The hours before midnight are a really important part of sleeping well, as they are the hours that are deeply restorative, that heal the body and provide sought-after anti-ageing benefits.
Even if you get a good amount of sleep, going to bed late can be highly inefficient. Try to get to bed around 10.30pm four nights a week to allow your body to access that vital 90 minute phase of sleep before midnight.
- Waking between 2am and 4am
Dr Nerina said: “Waking up between 2am and 4am is a surprisingly common complaint. If you wake up at this time and struggle to get to sleep it’s crucial not to start overthinking and worrying about not getting enough hours rest. The more you worry about missed sleep the worse your sleep quality will be.
“While it’s important to get enough sleep, there is far too much significance placed on the holy grail of eight hours. Everyone’s sleep requirements are different and it’s unhelpful to focus on getting a set amount. The key is to pay attention to how you feel when you wake up. If you wake up feeling refreshed after six hours you’re probably getting enough sleep for you.”
Are you giving your sleep a spring clean this month? Let us know on our social pages.