Nearly all animals on the planet need to sleep and most have a natural circadian rhythm that manages their sleeping and waking time over 24 hours. But why do we need this?
Apart from restoring our brains and bodies, scientists are still a little stumped as to why we need sleep; however, what is not contested, is the harm not getting enough sleep has on our wellbeing.
According to NHS.uk:
Not getting enough sleep can also affect our day to day lives by making us irritable, grumpy and less able to concentrate at work.
In 2016 the BBC published that sleep deprivation cost the UK economy £40 billion a year. We need to ask ourselves why, as a nation, we are sleeping so poorly, but in this article I'd like to offer up five suggestions of how to promote better sleep for wellbeing.
Get out into nature
If you follow Way to Wellbeing you might be aware of our belief in the power of nature for wellbeing. The natural world, sunlight, fresh air and foliage does not only help us destress and take ourselves out of the hustle and bustle of everyday, it can also promote good sleep. A gentle walk in the park or a half hour on your favourite bench or grassy spot can clear away the worries of the day. Worry can lead to poor sleep so it is important to try and destress before you go to bed so you are not hitting the pillow with a head full of spiralling thoughts and concerns.
Have a sleep routine and stick to it
If we wake up at the same time every morning, eventually our internal clock will set itself to that time and we will likely start falling asleep more easily when the time's right for our bodies to do so. It actually doesn’t matter what time we wake up, it just needs to be the same time every day. Some people naturally wake up early, and are known as morning larks, others are night owls and need a later start. Either way is perfectly fine so long as you stick to a routine that works for you. Set your alarm at an appropriate time. You may struggle with tiredness at first if you are struggling to get to sleep at night but the longer you stick to your wake up time the more your body will adjust itself to sleep when appropriate. Stick with it. It works. Even if you have a late night do not lie in or your internal clock will be thrown off and you may find it harder to get to sleep the next night.
Reduce screen time before bed
Our mobile devices and screens are designed to keep us engaged and our brains switched on. We recommend taking an hour off all devices before bed to let your brain and eyes wind down and relax ready for sleep.
Reduce daytime napping
It can be tempting to have a nap during the day, especially if we have experienced poor sleep the night before, but if you are regularly sleeping during the day and then not sleeping so well at night the two could be linked.
Don’t go to bed hungry or too full
Going to bed hungry or after a big meal can affect sleep so try to eat a while before you hit the hay but ensure your stomach isn’t growling when you try to go to sleep. Diet can affect our sleep too so do ensure you are eating a healthy diet throughout the day and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.