GETTING a good night’s sleep is vital for good physical, mental and emotional health.
Yet, it turns out half of all adults don’t get enough shut eye – with 48 per cent of us not getting the recommended seven hours’ kip.
And sleep deprivation now costs the UK economy over £40million a year in lost productivity.
So it turns out you getting more sleep is good for everyone – technically.
One good place to start is where you sleep – and it turns out there are certain things we should all be banning from the bedroom to max sleep.
As Silentnight‘s sleep expert, Dr Nerina Ramlakhan told The Sun: “A good environment is an essential part of getting deep, restorative sleep and this means everything from the right light and temperature in your bedroom to the right comfort of mattress.
“Turn your bedroom into a calming space that you really want to spend time in, I guarantee you’ll sleep better.”
Here, with the help of some experts, we reveal what to banish from the bedroom, to get a better night’s sleep.
1. Electronic devices
This is one that won’t surprise you.
Phones or tablets that emit blue light have been shown to disrupt melatonin levels – the hormone that regulates our sleep/wake cycle.
Dr Ramlakhan, recommends turning off all electronic devices 90 minutes before going to bed.
This is not just to get a good night’s kip – studies show a connection between overuse of phones and depression and anxiety.
While it might be tempting to cuddle up with your iPad this winter, make sure you allow your brain to switch off in the evenings
Dr Nerina Ramlakhan
She says: “Information overload and constant connection can negatively impact your mood.
“While it might be tempting to cuddle up with your iPad this winter, make sure you allow your brain to switch off in the evenings.
“Avoid social media accounts and emails for 90 minutes before bedtime. Instead read a book, listen to relaxing music and have a bath using relaxing essential oils.
“A regular wind down routine like this will reduce feelings of anxiety and allow your mind to relax; making sure you get a good night’s sleep and preparing you for the day ahead.”
As the temperatures drop, the heating comes on – but this can actually disrupt sleep.
This is because central heating systems dry out the mucous membranes, making you more thirsty during the night.
Dr Neil Stanley, ex-chairman of the British Sleep Society, says the optimum temperature for a good night is 18C or lower.
How much sleep do I need for my age?
The National Sleep Foundation recommends:
- Newborns (0-3 months): Sleep range narrowed to 14-17 hours (previously 12-18)
- Infants (4-11 months): Sleep range widened two hours 12-15 hours (previously 14-15)
- Toddlers (1-2 years): Sleep range widened one hour 11-14 hours (previously 12-14)
- Preschoolers (3-5): Sleep ranged widened by one hour to 10-13 hours (previously 11-13)
- School age children (6-13): Sleep range widened by one hour to 9-11 hours (previously it was 10-11)
- Teenagers (14-17): Sleep range widened by one hour to 8-10 hours (previously it was 8.5-9.5)
- Younger adults (18-25): Sleep range is 7-9 hours (new age category)
- Adults (26-64): Sleep range did not change and remains 7-9 hours
- Older adults (65+): Sleep range is 7-8 hours (new age category)
We need to lose around 1C of our internal body temperature, which sits at around 37C – to drift off.
If you’re in a room that’s too warm, your body can’t dump that excess heat – and that means that your sleep will be disturbed.
Turn the heating off in your bedroom and instead use duvets, blankets and breathable bed linen to help regulate your body temperature.
Time is of the essence when it comes to your caffeine hit.
Drink it too early or too late in the day, and Dr Sarah Brewer warns it can stop you sleeping.
Dr Sarah Brewer believes that most of us are drinking coffee at the wrong times of the day – from our first cup (which is too early), to our last (which is too late).
She said: “Caffeine is the most widely consumed stimulant in the world and mainly works via adenosine receptors in the brain.
“This produces an alerting effect by increasing the release of some brain chemicals. Caffeine increases focus and reduces the perception of fatigue.
Caffeine prevents the relaxing responses produced by adenosine and interferes with your ability to wind down and sleep
Dr Sarah Brewer
“By blocking adenosine receptors, it prevents the relaxing responses produced by adenosine and interferes with your ability to wind down and sleep.”
She recommends that you have your final cup of coffee no later than 5pm – although chronic insomniacs might want to stop the caffeine consumption at lunchtime.
4. Night tipples
A glass or two of wine, or a sip or two of brandy, for many is a pre-bed ritual.
But despite what you might think, experts say it actually doesn’t improve our sleep.
That’s because alcohol blocks tryptophan – an amino acid that helps you sleep – from getting to the brain.
Professor Malcolm von Schantz, from the University of Surrey, says: “Alcohol has a weird effect in that it makes it easier to fall asleep, but it makes it harder to stay asleep and it affects the quality of our sleep.”
Music to many parents ears… no need to feel guilty, having the kids kip in with you IS bad for your health.
And it could prove detrimental to them too.
Not only will their wriggling likely keep you up, letting a child sleep with you can stunt their development.
Siobhan Freegard, founder of ChannelMum recommends giving your child a nightlight if they can’t sleep in their own room.
She says: “Soothing nightlights can be a big help for anxious children who are scared of the dark and come though to escape it.
“Choose one that plays soft music and dreamy patterns to aid their sleep.”
According to the above chart posted on Lifehacker, children should go to bed by a certain time… and it all depends on when they woke up.
6. Alarm clocks
While they are vital in getting us out of bed in the morning, experts say they can actually be harmful to sleep.
Christopher Lindholst, CEO of sleep company MetroNaps, told Huffington Post: “Ideally you want to complete as many full sleep cycles during the course of a night as possible.
“If you wake up to an alarm clock, that means you are asleep, which means you are still in a sleep cycle.”
He recommended using an alarm clock as a backup method, but to try to adhere to a consistent bedtime to allow your body to wake up naturally.
He added: “Jump out of bed at 6:45am and have the satisfaction of turning off the alarm before it has even gone off.”
Eating before bed can really upset the body’s sleep cycle.
Experts say you should avoid eating within three hours of bedtime to “avoid indigestion, acid reflux and even nightmares”.
Helen Bond, registered dietitian, recommended the best snacks, including vegetable sticks with tzatziki, toast with salt nut butter and popcorn if the late-night munchies hit.
The best late night snacks
Here, Dr Helen Bond, registered dietitian, talks us through the best midnight snacks that are also diet-friendly.
• Vegetable sticks with tzatziki made from low-fat yogurt, cucumber, garlic and lemon juice
• Bowl of fresh fruit salad
• Pot of plain low-fat yogurt with fresh berries
• A few oatcakes topped with cottage cheese and tomato
• Slice of wholegrain toast with no added sugar or salt nut butter
• Small handful of unsalted nuts or seeds
• Few rye crispbreads topped with mashed avocado
• A few handfuls of air-popped popcorn dusted with cinnamon
• Few slices of wholegrain baguette topped with homemade salsa made from diced tomatoes and red onion, garlic and coriander
• Celery sticks filled with a few tablespoons of hummus
• Bowl of salad topped with one boiled egg
She told The Sun Online: “It’s best to avoid snack foods that are highly processed or refined.
“As well as being high in saturated fat, sugar and/or salt, they’re often low in nutrients and loaded with calories, and very moorish which makes it harder for us to control our weight.”
We’re all guilty of letting our cats or dogs cuddle up to us in bed at the end of the day.
However, they can rob us of those vital zzzzs – not just because they fidget about, but also because of fur shedding.
On top of this, sleeping with a furry friend can also aggravate allergies or asthma in those susceptible to it.
More on sleep tips and tricks
Dr Ramlakhan says: “While pets can seem like a great bedtime companion, they are bound to disrupt our sleep patterns in the long-term, despite how soothing it may be to have them in the bedroom with us.
“We must avoid pets getting into the habit of sleeping in our beds with us as best we can.
“And ensure they have their own place to sleep, as well as being groomed regularly to reduce fur shedding which can also be a nuisance.”