Sunday the 30th March saw the clocks 'spring forward' and many of us groaned about the hour less sleep, (don't worry, we'll be laughing come October). In the long run it does result in one hour more of daylight in the evenings, which saves energy and boosts activity later on in the day. However all of us here can't help but feel bitter about that lost hour (could be just us). Sleep becomes more important as we age, as it contributes to general health and well-being, and without it, our bodies can not recover or build up energy properly. That is why we have put together some helpful tips that may help you to have a better nights sleep.
How many hours of sleep do we need?
The BBC conducted an experiment last October which resulted in 500 genes being affected by a one hour change in sleep. Volunteers were made to sleep six and a half hours one week, then change it to seven and a half hours the week after. Genes associated with cancer risk and diabetes saw increases in activity when the volunteers slept for six and a half hours; this was flipped on its head when they slept for that extra hour. The average sleep time for someone in the UK is currently 6.5 hours, but it is generally recommended that you have 7-8 hours a night, any more than that can be considered 'excessive' and won't be as beneficial.
Tip 1: Watch what, and when you eat
-Hunger at night can disrupt sleep, with stomachs growling and the body wanting more food. A meal 3 hours before bed time should do the trick as digestion slows in the evening.
-We are all aware that caffeine can keep your mind racing, and unfortunately that isn't good if you are craving sleep. Its effects can last up to 12 hours, so either cutting back or drinking decaf can help.
-Avoiding liquids an hour before bedtime is a very key tip. It is good to keep hydrated throughout the day and to avoid dehydration during the night; but when you are rehydrated just before bed, your body is likely to wake you up in the middle of the night to do the opposite.
Tip 2: Lighting
This is kind of an obvious one if we are being honest. Keep lighting down to a minimum, the darker it is the better. This is difficult to do at this time of year as it is lighter in the evenings and older people tend to go to sleep earlier at night. Using low wattage bulbs in your bedroom can help, plus leave any electronics that emit light off.
Tip 3: Create a bed time routine
This one is definately harder to achieve over the weekend. A fixed bed time routine can usually end up wih a better night's sleep. You will be able to identify if you are sticking to your routine by waking up at the same time every morning. Napping in the day can also be good for making up lost sleep during then night, however it is better to cut out napping if you suffer with insomnia.
Tip 4: A relaxing environment
-The story of Goldilocks and the three bears, has an underlying theme with this tip (not too hot, not too cold, but just right). 18 degrees is the optimum temperature for getting a good night sleep which leaves the room feeling cool.
-Reducing background noise can also help your mind relax. White noise, soothing sounds or just wearing ear plugs can help you to reduce the noise made by factors you just can not control!
Tip 5: Exercise
It's all about keeping healthy. Exercising earlier on in the day can lead to a deeper sleep late at night, as your body will want to take time to recover. We aren't saying go to the gym every day, but it may be just a case of going for a walk or taking the stairs instead of the lift.
Unfortunately sometimes we can all have a bad nights sleep. If you continue to struggle with sleeping regularly, if you are unable to sleep at night, wake up frequently or feel fatigued throughout the day, then it is advised that you visit the doctors, as it could be a symptom of an underlying medical condition or sleep disorder.