Adults should get 7 - 9 hours good quality sleep each night, but that's often easier said than done for many of us. With World Sleep Day approaching, we've put together a list of practical ways to help you get enough zzzzs.
Figure out how much sleep you need
Be honest with yourself - you might be regularly getting 7 hours each night but if you still feel tired, chances are you need a little more.
Monitor how you feel and adjust your sleep duration accordingly.
Plan your bedtime
Most of the time we know what time we need to wake up the following day. Plan ahead, and diarise your bedtime to make sure you can fit the hours in.
It's not a surprise when the alarm goes off at 6am - you set it in the first place! Why not set an alarm to remind you to go to bed too if you find yourself staying up too late?
Why not set an alarm to remind you to go to bed if you find yourself staying up too late?
Plan your evening
Before it even gets to bedtime, you've probably got a list of things to do in the evening - cook dinner, make tomorrow's packed lunches, hang up the washing, watch the next episode of your latest TV show, hit the gym for an hour, call a friend...
Be mindful of how many hours you have before bedtime and make sure you can fit everything in. If you can't fit it all in, you might need to let some non-essentials slip to another day or find time by asking for help or safely multitasking.
Could your partner make the lunches and hang up the washing on alternate evenings while you go to the gym? Could you put the phone on loudspeaker and call your friend while you're making dinner? Could you listen to an audio book whilst working out to get your entertainment fix? Too much multi-tasking can be stressful, but a little could help you be more efficient with your evenings and help you get to bed on time.
Avoid binge watching past your bedtime
It can be hard not to move on to the next episode straight away when something exciting has just happened. Ok, REALLY hard. But with millions of Britons skipping sleep or making themselves tired by binge watching TV, it's something we need to address.
Did you know you can turn off the setting to auto-play the next episode on Netflix? That's one step you can take to prevent the next episode from 'accidentally' starting and hooking you in
Remind yourself that it won't hurt to wait until tomorrow for the next episode, but it will hurt if you stay up late to watch it now.
Set a sleep timer on your TV to turn off at a certain time, and put the remote control away in a drawer
Stop to make a cup of decaff or herbal tea after an episode to give time for the initial excitement to die down and make it easier to turn the TV off and head to bed
If you're watching with someone else, agree together how many episodes you will watch that evening so they don't start the next episode when you should be starting to wind down for bedtime
Change your perspective
What do you think about sleep? Is it a hindrance? An annoying necessity? A nightly cause of stress? What if you saw sleep as a pleasure and looked forward to feeling refreshed and untired the next day?
Think of all the things you enjoy about sleeping - write them down so they sink in. Imagine feeling refreshed and full of energy, and waking up feeling good, not groggy.
If you struggle to fall asleep, actively research ways to help you sleep and put them into practice. Try some bedtime mindfulness meditation to calm any anxiety about getting to sleep, or make an appointment with your GP if you can't find anything that works.
Manage your environment
Getting to sleep, staying asleep and having good quality sleep are important. If your bed or pillow is uncomfortable, or your duvet is too warm, or car headlights through your curtain and your partners alarm disturb you - find solutions.
Buy a new mattress, get a blackout blind, invest in some ear plugs or a vibrating alarm clock... Take a good look at the barriers you have to a good night's sleep and how you can overcome them.
These are just a few ideas to help you get the sleep you need. If you're regularly tired during the day, you probably need to catch some more zzz's - the Sleep Council has a wealth of sleep advice to help you reach the land of nod.
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